Somerville Community Path

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Somerville Community Path in Somerville, Massachusetts

The Somerville Community Path is a paved mixed-use path in Somerville, Massachusetts, running 0.8 mile (1.3 km) from the Alewife Linear Park border to Cedar Street via Davis Square.[1]

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,[2] to pass through Davis Square. Pedestrians have grade-level crosswalks, and bicyclists are routed via nearby streets or may walk their bikes.[3] They join again at Grove Street[3] and continue to Cedar Street (though there is an MBTA busway linking Grove Street to College Avenue).[4]

The original path connected Alewife Linear Park to Davis Square, and was completed in 1985. A stretch of 0.8 mile (1.3 km) heading east from Davis Square to Cedar Street was constructed in 1992, and in 2013, construction began on a further extension to Lowell Street, due to open in 2014.[5]


Somerville Community Path

The Boston and Lowell Railroad was chartered in 1830 and started service in 1835. The main line is now the MBTA Lowell Line. 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",[6] "Somerville Freight Spur", or Davis Square Freight Cut-Off.[7] (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, near modern-day Lowell Street),[8][9] to the Lexington and Arlington Railroad (now mostly converted to the Minuteman Bikeway), which the Boston and Lowell had just acquired.[10] Passenger service ran via this connection from 1870 until 1927.[10] 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,[11] 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.[6]

In 2013, construction began on the path's extension from Cedar to Lowell Street, scheduled to open in late 2014, which will eventually provide access to the new Lowell Street station.[5]

Proposed extension[edit]

In April 2014, state officials announced that a 1.9 mile (3.0 km) extension will be built alongside the Green Line Extension, ultimately creating a continuous route from Bedford to Boston’s Charles River Bike Path.[12]

The first phase of the $39 million project will connect a relocated Lechmere Station to the new Washington Street station, east of Union Square. The remaining stretch will connect Washington Street to the new Lowell Street Station near Magoun Square. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation produced a 3-D virtual tour of the proposed extension.[13] Construction to extend the path from where it currently ends at Cedar Street to Lowell Street is already underway.[5][14]


  1. ^ "OSPCD - Community Path". Somerville OSPCD. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  2. ^ City Of Somerville - Maps of the City
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Another sign near Davis Square calls this the "College Ave to Cedar St Segment".
  5. ^ a b c Powers, Martine (1 May 2014). "Somerville bike pathway to expand". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  6. ^ a b States/Boston, Massachusetts/MBTA Red Line
  7. ^ City Of Somerville - Maxpak Planning
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "City of Somerville: Park at Somerville Junction". Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  10. ^ a b Worden, John L. III (1991). Arlington's Little Local Railroad. The Arlington Historical Society. 
  11. ^ According to the sign at the Somerville end of Linear Park
  12. ^ Conway, Abby Elizabeth (30 April 2014). "Somerville Bike Path To Extend To Boston". WBUR. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  13. ^ Green Line Extension Community Path - 3-D Model Presentation, MassDOT, 2014
  14. ^ Green Line Extension Project, Community Path presentation, May 14, 2014

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°23′48″N 71°07′20″W / 42.396722°N 71.12213°W / 42.396722; -71.12213