The City of Somerville has been advocating for the development of the Somerville Community Path along the path of a former rail bed for the past decade. The City will continue to work on extending the path to create additional open space, access, and improve public infrastructure for the community.
The Community Path connects to the Alewife Linear Park stretching from Davis Square to Alewife MBTA Station in Cambridge and beyond to Arlington and Belmont. With the assistance of the active community group Friends of the Community Path, the City of Somerville received a Tourism Grant from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority to put toward further development of the path. Since then, the City and advocates have worked towards extension of the original stretch of the path through Somerville and in the future to Boston.
Future Development of the Community Path
The extension of the Community Path will occur in three phases:
Phase I connected the Community Path to the Linear Path across Davis Square. The Path proceeds at the College Avenue MBTA entrance and Busway, past Lexington park, and onwards to Cedar Street. The project included landscape improvements along the path between Highland Road and Lexington Avenue. Funding for this phase originated from the Boston Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). This project, managed by MassDOT, was completed in 2011.
Phase II will extend the Community Path from Cedar Street to Lowell Street. This section will eventually provide access to the new Lowell Street Green Line T station. Funding for this phase includes MassHighway Congestion Management Air Quality (CMAQ) funds, TIP funds, and an earmark secured by Congressman M. Capuano. The adjacent Maxwell’s Green development has contributed significantly by removing the existing railroad tracks between Cedar Street and Lowell Street and regrading the area. Construction on the project is underway as of Spring 2013. .
Phase III will connect Lowell Street to Northpoint in Cambridge. Construction of this portion is being planned in conjunction with the Green Line Extension. The City has been working closely with the MBTA Green Line Extension team for more than five years to guide the design of the path alignment. The City will continue to work with the MBTA and state and federal transportation officials throughout the design process and to secure funds for the project.
The Bigger Picture
In addition to providing a safe, healthy, and sustainable transportation infrastructure in Somerville, the Community Path will connect to the regional trail system in several ways. The path will be the final link in the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail that will extend 104-miles along a former rail line from Boston to Northampton. The path will also connect with the Mystic Valley Active and Safe Transportation Network (see link on the right under Programs) that will run along the Mystic and Malden Rivers and the Alewife Brook. The Community Path is one of the most popular and busy spots in the city for walking, jogging, biking, and enjoying the outdoors.