Consultants for the Wynn Everett project revealed in detail last week that they will contribute $250,000 towards working to build a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Mystic River – hopefully one day connecting the new Assembly Row Orange Line station to Wynn and the Gateway Mall.
“We have been looking at the idea of a footbridge over the Mystic River,” said Chris Gordon, a consultant to Wynn, during a meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) last week. “It doesn’t look that undoable in our early look at it. We’re providing some funding to investigate it…People would walk across the bridge from the Orange Line Station and empty out right at our development and at the Gateway Mall.”
Wynn has agreed to pay $250,000 to further investigate the plan, which was originally put forth by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) in a 2009 study.
Gordon said the connection would be wide enough to handle pedestrian and bicycle traffic and would connect to the planned bicycle paths that would come down adjacent to the commuter rail tracks.
“There is a whole world of bike paths you can tap into once you’re across the river,” he said.
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria
“Since the submission of the SFEIR, the City has engaged the MBTA and DCR to explore an extension of the path utilizing land on and alongside the MBTA Saugus Branch under the Revere Beach Parkway and along the MBTA Newburyport Line to reach the Mystic River and DCR path network,” he said. “Discussions with both the MBTA and DCR have resulted in conceptual support for the project pending a full engineering analysis and cost estimate. While Wynn has already committed $250,000 to advance the design of the Mystic River bridge crossing, the City advocates that this commitment be increased to include design of the path the entire distance from the current terminus of the Northern Strand path at West and Wellington Streets to the Mystic River and proposed bridge crossing.”
The planned path would be over either the Amelia Earhart Dam, over the MBTA commuter rail bridge or via a new freestanding bridge somewhere beyond the Earhart Dam.
He said they estimated it would take roughly 10 minutes to walk across the bridge to the Wynn facility – and there is no consensus on whether it should be covered or open.
DCR officials said that, in 2009, VHB Inc. prepared a feasibility study for DCR and Exelon New England Holdings, LLC to study the feasibility of a bicycle and pedestrian crossing of the Mystic River from Everett to the Assemble Square area of Somerville in the vicinity of the Amelia Earhart Dam.
Three options were explored in that lengthy report, with the cheapest option being the dam at $5 million. Other options were as much as $6.3 million, with the MBTA option being the most expensive.
DCR said it has not yet worked with the Wynn Everett folks, but look forward to forming any sort of public-private partnership.
“The Department of Conservation and Recreation continually solicits proposals for potential public-private partnerships as part of the Department’s mission to provide unparalleled recreational opportunities to the citizens and visitors of Massachusetts,” said DCR Deputy Press Secretary Kevin O’Shea.
Gordon said he believes the bridge could be a major connecting point for that entire area.
“If you factor in Gateway Mall, (Wynn) and Assembly Row, there are three major developments that would directly benefit from this bridge,” he said.
Added DeMaria, “The extension of the Northern Strand Bike Path to the Mystic River and the construction of a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over the Mystic River is a top priority for the City of Everett and is something for which I hav
e always advocated. Such a link would create both uninhibited bicycle and pedestrian access for the City of Everett and neighboring communities to the Boston Metro area and provide essential access for the City of Everett to MBTA connections. This project would benefit not only the development at the Wynn site, but also numerous other developments in the region. It would create the potential to significantly increase bicycle, pedestrian and transit mode shares in areas that have been traditionally difficult to access by pedestrians and cyclists and those seeking to take advantage of light rail access.”
The idea was presented within Wynn’s SSFEIR environmental filing as a mitigation piece.