The long-hoped-for Mystic River Pedestrian/Bike bridge that would connect a critical missing link for the Northern Strand Trail has been prioritized as one of three projects by MassDOT to receive federal infrastructure funding.
Last week, MassDOT releases the news that three projects statewide had been submitted for funding under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program. The program is run by the U.S. Department of Transportation and takes applications from the 50 states for competitive funding to help travel and safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, rail and public transit customers.
The $32 million pedestrian/bicycle bridge runs from the Encore Boston Harbor casino HarborWalk, which is the current terminus of the Northern Strand, to the Draw 7 Park in Somerville on the shores of the Mystic River. It would connect bike paths in Somerville, Cambridge and Boston – as well as an Orange Line Station on the banks at Assembly Row. It joins projects in Lynn and Springfield.
The state application seeks $25 million in federal RAISE Grant funding for the Mystic River Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge. The project would provide important pedestrian and bicycle access from the Lower Broadway neighborhood of Everett, including the recently opened Encore Boston Harbor resort, to the MBTA Orange Line Assembly Station, read the application.
“This federal discretionary grant program gives us an opportunity to take on multi-modal projects that will increase and improve safer public travel options across the Commonwealth,” said Acting Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “RAISE Grants have the potential to open doors to safer, more efficient, and more secure travel where we have seen a demand from the public for improved connections and we appreciate the support of community members and advocates who have worked closely with members of the MassDOT team to put forth these comprehensive project applications.”
Encore had put forth the money long ago to design and engineer the Bridge, which has a striking curved design and a suspension aspect that mimics the Zakim/Bunker Hill Bridge further up the corridor.
“We are pleased that the Mystic River Bicycle and Pedestrian bridge is being considered for a RAISE Grant and are in full support of providing greater access to the City of Everett and a direct connection between Everett and the MBTA Orange Line at Assembly Station,” said Rose Salisbury, spokesperson for Encore Boston Harbor.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said the bridge has been part of his vision for that area over a period of many years, and it’s exciting to see it prioritized.
“The Mystic River Pedestrian Bridge has been a vision of my administration for many years as it will provide safe and direct pedestrian and bicycle access from the Northern Strand Trail to the MBTA station in Assembly Row and connect with other planned trails in Charlestown, Somerville and Medford,” he said. “It connects not only Everett, but the entire North Shore to the regional trail and transit network. I want to thank Governor Baker and Secretary Tessler for recognizing the incredible potential of this bridge and their commitment to securing the necessary funding resources to see it completed.”
Patrick Herron, director of the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), said this will be the most important missing link in the path to the Mystic River, if funded.
“The Mystic crossing from Everett to Somerville is the missing link to connect residents of the North Shore to the Orange Line and better access to Somerville and the City of Boston,” said Herron. “We are grateful for the work of MassDOT and the Cities of Somerville and Everett for their response to the overwhelming community support for this project. This is exactly the kind of active transportation links we need to be making to public transportation and the high density of jobs in the area for a sustainable economy and resilient communities.”
The three MassDOT RAISE Grant applications are subject to selection by the USDOT and specific RAISE Grant Program criteria which includes investments in transportation projects with local and regional impacts that also achieve national objectives. Previously, the program has awarded over $8.9 billion to projects throughout the nation. For this round of grant applications, USDOT has appropriated $1 billion total in RAISE grants prioritizing projects that can improve racial equity, reduce the effects of climate change, and create jobs, with a maximum grant of $25 million for one project proposal and a total for each state of $100 million. This round of RAISE grants is scheduled to be awarded by November 22, 2021.