Special to the Independent
The Baker-Polito Administration celebrated the completion of more than 10 miles of the Northern Strand Trail, which is a shared used path that traverses parts of the Cities of Everett, Lynn, Malden, and Revere, and the Town of Saugus along the rail bed of the former Saugus Branch Railroad. The $15.5 million project by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) was completed utilizing funding from the Gateway City Parks Program.
“Projects like the Northern Strand Trail serve as critical assets that link communities and residents across the Commonwealth together,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through the MassTrails team, our Administration has been proud to collaborate across state government and with municipal partners and trail advocacy groups to advance these projects that bring numerous environmental, recreational and transportation benefits to communities in Massachusetts .”
“We were pleased to fund the Northern Strand Trail, and to partner with Everett, Lynn, Malden, Revere, and Saugus to advance this critical project,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The Northern Strand Trail will provide benefits not only to the residents and businesses along the trail, but also to visitors and those living in the surrounding region.”
The trail corridor connects neighborhoods, links residents to business districts, provides access to regional assets such as DCR’s Lynn Shore and Nahant Beach Reservations, serves as a critical component of the East Coast Greenway, and improves the quality of life for the region’s residents. The trail also has transportation and greenhouse gas emissions benefits. Provision of a practical, safe route of relatively short distance between major cities helps to encourage walking and biking as an alternative to driving, thus reducing emissions and helping the Commonwealth comply with the Global Warming Solutions Act.
“Safe and fun access to the outdoors is a priority of the Baker-Polito Administration, and I am pleased that this project provides residents with great opportunity to get some exercise and enjoy the Commonwealth’s natural resources,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “Significantly, rail trails like the Northern Strand Trail also provide commuters with the option to leave their cars behind, which reduce the release of harmful carbon emissions and assists in the Commonwealth’s efforts to achieve Net Zero in 2050.”
The construction of the Northern Strand was supported by the work of the Interagency MassTrails Team, which is composed of staff from EEA, MassDOT, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The purpose of the team is to help develop a unified vision for a trails network and translate that into strategic investments, policy innovations to facilitate development of trails, and partnerships with municipalities and other organizations. The Northern Strand trail project is a direct result of the group’s “one team, one plan, one vision” approach to advance multi-use trails across the Commonwealth.
“Shared use paths give people a safe, comfortable, and convenient option to walk and bike for everyday trips without relying on a car to get to destinations. The benefits are countless when it comes to active travel for wellbeing, public health, reducing pollution, and supporting local businesses,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “Whether people are commuting to work, going shopping, or just out for fun, more than 100,000 people of four gateway cities now are within ½ mile of the Northern Strand.”
Following work conducted by many partners, including the long-time advocacy of Bike to the Sea organization, trail segments were in various stages when EEA took on the project. EEA’s partners on the project included the five communities, with Revere acting as the contracting entity during the construction phase. The project enhanced an already paved trail in some communities, such as upgrading road crossings to make them better and safer locations. In other communities where the rails were still in place the project involved all aspects of trail design, permitting, and construction. Additionally, the trail was designed by the team of Brown, Richardson, and Rowe, landscape architects, and Stantec Consulting engineers, who also administered project construction, and built by the R. Zoppo Corporation.
“After nearly 30 years of tireless advocacy, Bike to the Sea is thrilled to celebrate the official ribbon cutting for the Northern Strand Trail,” said Jonah Chiarenza, Executive Director of Bike to the Sea. “We thank the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for this historic investment in recreation and active transportation.”
Design work for the balance of the Northern Strand Extension in Lynn, which will travel along South Common Street, Market Street, and the Carroll Parkway before reaching Nahant Beach, is at the 75% stage. Funding for construction is programmed on MassDOT’s Transportation Improvement Program for FY24, which means that work should begin in the fall of 2023 and end in the summer of 2025.
On the southern end of the Northern Strand the City of Everett has been building the segment from West Street to the Mystic River. In addition, DCR is completing the design and permitting of the Mystic River Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge. Construction funding has been set aside for bridge work to begin in the summer of 2023, with construction expected to take about two years. The completed project will result in a transportation and recreation corridor of about 11.5 miles from the Somerville side of the Mystic River at Assembly Square to the beach at the Nahant causeway.
“I would like to thank Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and Secretary Card from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for their support of this important regional initiative,” said Saugus Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree. “I would also like to commend the Cities of Revere, Malden, Lynn and Everett, as well as Bike to the Sea, for their partnership and dedication in turning this multi-community effort into a reality. In addition, I would like to thank all of the town’s volunteers and officials who contributed their ideas and suggestions, which strengthened the community vision for this important recreational staple.”
“We’re thrilled to see the expansion of the Northern Strand and to have Lynn added to the shared use path,” said Lynn Mayor Jared Nicholson. “This initiative will contribute to our goals of increasing connectivity and accessibility to transportation and open, green space throughout the City and beyond.”
“The completion of the Northern Strand Trail is a transformative multimodal transportation investment for the communities north of Boston that have been historically underserved by our transportation network,” said Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “I applaud this achievement by the Baker administration, welcoming the Cities of Revere, Saugus and Lynn into the trail network, and look forward to the full completion of the path when the Mystic River bridge opens in the coming years.”
“There isn’t anything that has transformed our city like the Northern Strand Community Trail has done,” said Malden Mayor Gary Christenson. “From providing a safe space to bike, run, and walk to creating a place for public art to being a place for families to come together, the trail has achieved all that we had hoped for and it has also proven that hard work is still the key to success. Thank you to Bike to the Sea for their 20 years of dedication to making this invaluable project a reality.”
“The Northern Strand Community Trail is a shining example of regional collaboration and the commitment of the Commonwealth to enhance the quality of life for the residents of our urban communities,” said Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo. “Thanks to the hard work of our local and state partners, the residents of Revere will enjoy this trail for generations to come and have enhanced access to open space and outdoor recreation.”
“The Northern Strand Trail continues to bring people together both within and across communities,” said State Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn). “We are thankful for this project, which is a major investment in our region’s public health, economy, and emissions reduction efforts.”
The image above shows the route of the Northern Strand. The completed 10-mile (+/-) section of shared used path is shown as a solid blue line. On the northern end the dotted section in Lynn is in design, to be built starting in FY24. Also, the Community Path of Lynn, a spur trail, was built as part of a separate effort. On the southern end, the City of Everett is completing a connection to the Mystic River, and the Mystic River Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge is under design (also to be built starting in FY24).