Somerville Community Path


Somerville Community Path

The Somerville Community Path is a project to build a mixed-use path in Somerville, Massachusetts, from the Cambridge border near Davis Square to the Cambridge border near Lechmere Square. Roughly 0.8 miles (1.3 km) of the path is finished and in use.http://www.pathfriends.org/scp/community_path_detail.gif] The two finished segments feature pavement interspersed with brick, and surrounded by grass, trees, pedestrian connections to nearby streets, and a community garden. The path is lit at night and plowed in the winter.

If completed, the project would connect the Minuteman Bikeway, Fitchburg Cutoff Path, and Cambridge Linear Park to the Charles River Bike Path and downtown Boston, Massachusetts. This would create connections for Bedford, Lexington, Concord, Arlington, Belmont, Somerville, and Cambridge to the proposed East Coast Greenway.

Route

The "Alewife Linear Park" segment of the Somerville Community Path [As described on the sign at the Davis Square end] is a continuation of the Cambridge Linear Park, which runs from the Cambridge-Somerville border west to Alewife Station, the Fitchburg Cutoff Path, and the Minuteman Bikeway. The bicycle and pedestrian paths diverge slightly just before Seven Hills Park, [ [http://www.somervillema.gov/Maps.cfm?page=24&pv=Yes City Of Somerville - Maps of the City ] ] to pass through Davis Square. Pedestrians have grade-level crosswalks, and bicyclists are routed via nearby streets or may walk their bikes. They join again at Grove Streethttp://www.somervillema.gov/CoS_Content/images/city_map.jpg] and continue to Cedar St (though there is an MBTA busway linking Grove Street to College Ave). [Another sign near Davis Square calls this the "College Ave to Cedar St Segment".]

Community activists hope to finish a 2.5 mile (4.0 km) extension of the Somerville Community Path by connecting this segment to the existing path in Lechmere Square in eastern Cambridge (at the North Point development.

The next segment to the east, from Cedar Street to Central Street, is in the design phase. This segment and the next portion, from Central Street to Lowell Street, currently consist of disused railroad tracks under a forest canopy.

The final segment, from Lowell Street to Lechmere/North Point, is proposed to be built in conjunction with the Somerville-Medford extension of the Green Line light rail. This will mainly run alongside the active Lowell Line commuter rail tracks, except for a disused railroad right-of-way near Lechmere. The path would parallel that route, while connecting with the new stations to be built along the way. [http://www.somervillema.gov/CoS_Content/documents/School%20to%20No%20Point%20Presentation.pdf Community Path Feasibility study, School St. To North Point Presentation, 2006] The Green Line extension was to be completed by the end of 2014 under an agreement to meet federal clean air requirements, [http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2008/05/potential_green.html Potential Green Line stops announced in Somerville, Medford] but the MBTA has indicated that the project might be delayed until 2016. [http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/09/23/mayor_sees_chance_in_mbta_delay/ Mayor sees chance in MBTA delay]

The Urban Ring project may result in a connecting "rail with trail" path along the Grand Junction Railroad right-of-way.

History

The Boston and Lowell Railroad was chartered in 1830 and started service in 1835. The main line is now the MBTA Lowell Line.

From Alewife on the Cambridge-Arlington border, to Lowell Street in Somerville, the Cambridge Linear Park and Somerville Community Path follow a railroad right-of-way that was laid out in 1870, known as the "Fitchburg Freight Cutoff", "Somerville Freight Cut-off", [http://world.nycsubway.org/us/boston/red.html world.nycsubway.org/United States/Boston, Massachusetts/MBTA Red Line ] ] or "Somerville Freight Spur", [http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=456458&sid=1094df7fd3a995d826e058d8b464471a RAILROAD.NET :: View topic - Abandonment of Somerville Freight Spur (ex-Fitchburg Cutoff) ] ] or Davis Square Freight Cut-Off. [ [http://www.somervillema.gov/section.cfm?org=planning&page=394 City Of Somerville - Maxpak Planning ] ] (In the 1980s and 1990s, after the Red Line extension, there remained an active freight spur from the Lowell Line to the "MaxPak" site, where the last industrial user went out of business in 2002. [ [http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=307681&sid=aa7db49f2366fb15249d05f632a48c39 RAILROAD.NET :: View topic - Abandonment of Somerville Freight Spur (ex-Fitchburg Cutoff) ] ] ) The Boston and Lowell built the connection from its main line (at Somerville Junction, at modern-day Lowell Street ["Somerville Junction Park" at the site of the former station, near the intersection of present-day Centre and Woodbine Streets, was dedicated on September 25, 2008.] ) to the Lexington and Arlington Railroad (now mostly converted to the Minuteman Bikeway), which the Boston and Lowell had just acquired. [cite book|last=Worden III|first=John L.|title=Arlington's Little Local Railroad|publisher=The Arlington Historical Society|date=1991|url=http://arlingtonhistorical.org/museumshop/] There was also a connection to the Fitchburg Railroad main line, now the MBTA Fitchburg Line.

After various corporate acquisitions and the decline of railroad service in the United States, the public Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority acquired the rights of way in 1973.

The existing paths were created in 1985 by the MBTA, Cambridge, and Somerville, [According to the sign at the Somerville end of Linear Park] in conjunction with the extension of the MBTA Red Line from Harvard to Alewife. The Davis-to-Alewife segment of the Red Line was built using a cut-and-cover method. The surface landscaping for the path was added after subway tunnel construction was complete. Between Davis and Porter, the subway diverges from the surface street pattern, using a deep bore tunnel.

References

External links

* [http://www.pathfriends.org/ Friends of the Community Paths]
* [http://www.somervillema.gov/Section.cfm?org=Planning&page=158 Official page] from the City of Somerville


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