While battle lines have been drawn across the Mystic River for Everett and Somerville, those harsh lines have eased lately and have been brought together with a bridge – a proposed $22.6 million pedestrian/cycling bridge between the two communities.
Now, the two have filed a grant together to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) to augment that proposed bridge, which was unveiled only two weeks ago.
City Transportation Planner Jay Monty said that Somerville and Everett have filed a joint application with the MGC for $425,000 in Community Mitigation Fund grant money for designing what is called the “head house” – a critical addition to the Assembly Row T Station that helps seamlessly connect the bridge, bike bath and the MBTA.
The cooperation has been cheered from all corners.
“I want to commend the City of Somerville and Mayor Curtatone for jointly filing, with the City of Everett, an application to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “We all know greater connectivity is critical to greater economic, social and recreational opportunities, and better access to services, employment and investment opportunities. That is why it is important to create a truly inclusive transportation network. This bridge will do just that. It will provide the City of Everett with a link to rail and will provide the City of Somerville with a welcoming entrance to Draw 7 Park and the Mystic River Basin.”
In addition to cooperating on the bridge, the Mayor’s Office said Mayor Curtatone has been very helpful recently in other municipal challenges, such as the school finance crisis, where he was helpful in recommending members of the blue ribbon task force.
It has been a breath of fresh air in the relationship, City Hall officials have indicated.
Monty said the cooperation is crucial to make sure the transportation network is regional and cooperative.
“I don’t want to speak for Somerville, but for us, the bridge could be looked at in a very negative light as just the front door for a casino who needs it to have T accessibility, but in reality if you look at the larger picture, it’s access to the Malden River, the Mystic River and the Draw 7 park,” he said. “You connect what is a really regional piece that can connect to many pieces at the same time.”
Monty said the funding would take the design for the head house to about 99 percent. The addition of the head house to the T Stop allows a direct connection to the bridge and Northern Strand Community Path. As it is now, anyone trying to access the T from the bridge, or trying to access the bridge from the T, would have to go about a half-mile up the river, under a bridge and then backtrack to the destination. The head house would prevent having to take that journey.
“The idea is we can go to the T or to MassDOT together, or to another funder, with a full set of construction plans and the design phase done and present it,” Monty said. “We think that’s a good strategy.”
The MGC takes applications yearly for the Mitigation Fund in February, and typically makes its awards in the summer.