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. 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 snowplowed in the winter.
If completed, the project would connect the Minuteman Bikeway, Fitchburg Cutoff Path, Alewife Brook Greenway 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.
The "Alewife Linear Park" segment of the Somerville Community Path 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. Proceeding eastbound, the bicycle and pedestrian paths diverge slightly just before Seven Hills Park, 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 Street and continue to Cedar Street (though there is an MBTA busway linking Grove Street to College Avenue).
Community activists hope to finish a 2.5-mile (4.0-kilometre) 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, funded by a tourism grant from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. This segment currently consists of disused railroad tracks under a forest canopy. A feasibility study was performed in 2006 on the segment from School Street in Somerville to the Cambridge border. Construction of the segment from Cedar Street to Lowell Street is "anticipated to begin in late 2012."
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. Cooperation between the projects is mandated by the state environmental review process; preliminary drawings have been published. As of December 2008, the Green Line extension must be completed by the end of 2014 under an agreement to meet federal clean air requirements. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation has agreed to design the path extension as part of the Green Line project, but it will not be responsible for building the path.
From near 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, and later known as the "Fitchburg Freight Cutoff", "Somerville Freight Cut-off", "Somerville Freight Spur", or Davis Square Freight Cut-Off. (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.) The Boston and Lowell built the connection from its main line (at Somerville Junction, at modern-day Lowell Street), to the Lexington and Arlington Railroad (now mostly converted to the Minuteman Bikeway), which the Boston and Lowell had just acquired. Passenger service ran via this connection from 1870 until 1927. An extension connected to the Fitchburg Railroad main line, now the MBTA Fitchburg Line, between what are now Alewife Station and Brighton Street, Belmont.
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 from Alewife to Davis Square were created in 1985 by the MBTA, Cambridge, and Somerville, 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.
The path from Davis to Cedar Street was completed in 1992.
Funding for the Cedar to Central portion was requested by the City of Somerville under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, but at the time was also included in the 2010 Boston MPO Transportation Improvement Plan for conventional matching state and federal funds.
- As described on the sign at the Davis Square end
- City Of Somerville - Maps of the City
- Another sign near Davis Square calls this the "College Ave to Cedar St Segment".
- Community Path Extension Study - School St to Northpoint
- "OSPCD - Community Path". Somerville OSPCD. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- http://www.somervillema.gov/CoS_Content/documents/School%20to%20No%20Point%20Presentation.pdf Community Path Feasibility study, School St. To North Point Presentation, 2006
- https://www.commentmgr.com/projects/1228/docs/Somerville Community Path-overview.pdf
- http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2008/05/potential_green.html Potential Green Line stops announced in Somerville, Medford
- Public meeting, 1 Dec 2008. (minutes to be available within 30 days)
- Executive Office of Transportation and City of Somerville Announce Progress on Planning for Green Line Extension, press release, March 10, 2009
- world.nycsubway.org/United States/Boston, Massachusetts/MBTA Red Line
- City Of Somerville - Maxpak Planning
- The Park at Somerville Junction, at the site of the former station, near the intersection of present-day Centre and Woodbine Streets, was dedicated on September 25, 2008.
- "City of Somerville: Park at Somerville Junction". Retrieved 2009-05-22.
- Worden, John L. III (1991). Arlington's Little Local Railroad. The Arlington Historical Society.
- According to the sign at the Somerville end of Linear Park
- "Somerville Community Path Feasibility Study: School Street to Cambridge Line". Retrieved 2013-05-12.