Project Linking the City to Water Slated to Restart
After a long delay, the project dubbed as the South Bay Harbor Trail is set to start working again next spring. When completed, it will connect the Seaport District and Roxbury through the South End neighborhood.
About the South Bay Harbor Trail
The bike trail that is also pedestrian friendly is a work in progress. It is considered an ambitious project that provides a pathway for the inner city communities in Boston to the harbor. There are some segments that are already completed, but there are also other parts needing attention. There are also some parts of the path that require the help on construction from abutting lots.
Initially, the path was made possible by concentrating on connections with facilities that were considered large scale. The trail has one of its sections created during the time when Orange Line was constructed through Roxbury and the South End.
There is also another part of the trail that parallels the construction of the Big Dig/Central Artery, which has hugely affected Central Boston. Meanwhile, another section of the trail relates to the redevelopment of the waterfront in South Boston.
Along the route of the trail, the effects of the construction are visible in which parts of its path are connected to complete an uninterrupted walking route that would take the walker or biker to Roxbury or the South End to the Harbor.
The trail is a project of the South Bay Harbor Trail Coalition, along with the help of the city of Boston and the Save the Harbor, Save the Bay environmental advocacy group.
The Plan for the Harbor Trail
Upon the completion of the Harbor Trail, it will connect the inland neighborhoods of Boston, which will further expand the amenities of the Harbor. These would include the Children’s Museum, the new Harbor Islands National Park, and the New England Aquarium.
What makes the route quite attractive is that it is ideal for pedestrians who often walk along the trail. It will also function as access via a relatively uncultivated area on the borders of downtown Boston. In addition to that, the South Bay Harbor Trail will closely connect the paths along the Charles River and the Boston Harbor.
Because of the connection, walkers can entirely encircle the outer fringes of the city center, including places such as Chinatown and South End. It will also effortless link other areas such as the shopping districts in the city, as well as the financial districts, the North End, the Back Bay, the Government Center, and Beacon Hill.
The trail will encompass 3.4 miles and will begin from the MBTA’s Ruggles Orange Line Station, which is found in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. It will then follow the boundaries of the communities of Fort Point Channel and the South End of the city until it reaches the South Boston waterfront.
A New Style for Urban Walks
The trail carves out a path that would help people get to know more about an unchartered area. The unique approach represents a whole new style brought to how urban walking should now be. Apart from the three-hour walk, it will allow residents easy access to their jobs as well as public transportation.
The trail can also be used to get to cultural institutions, and it crosses under highways and over bridges. Although the route is not yet completed, the city of Boston has guaranteed that it will be completed stage by stage. Despite being incomplete, there are segments that are open for use daily, including the areas in Harborwalk, South Boston. Along with this corridor, there will be a reconstruction soon for the future Melnea Cass Boulevard, which will upgrade this part of the trail.
The city of Boston has already secured financial backing, which will be used to construct the trail to connect South Boston and South End. The completed design was provided this year, and the construction is set to begin next year in spring.
Expected Phases of the Project
The South Bay Harbor Trail is aimed at running3.5 miles, starting exactly from Fan Pier which is on the waterfront of the city. It will go all the way to the Ruggles stop of Orange Line. Based on the plans for the project, it will have the following phases:
- The first phase includes the stretch near Albany Street at South End, which will run 0. 75 miles along and underneath the Southeast Expressway. More or less, it will connect with the Harborwalk.
- The second and final phase involves the larger overhaul of the Melnea Cass Boulevard, which is in the Roxbury neighborhood. It will be a huge project and is not expected to begin anytime soon. There is no exact date yet, but it could start in 2019 or even later than that.
The city officials have already finalized the designs for the trail, which may be the signal that the project is really set to restart and up for completion.
The first phase is considered complicated because of the path will be detached from the street. The separation will happen as it crosses under the main road and it will initially move through the neighborhood of South Boston.
As soon as the link rejoins the streets of the city over the bridge in Broadway and through Dorchester Avenue, it will become a bike track that will make sure the bikers are well-protected. Pylons and curbing will separate the cyclists, so that they do not have to worry about vehicle traffic.
The rest of the path will move through the properties between the Massachusetts Avenue Connector and the Albany Street before it joins Melnea Cass Boulevard all the way to the final stretch to Ruggles. In the last part of the construction, most of the work will be performed by joining forces with the redesign of Melnea Cass, which has a budget of $25 million. It is scheduled to start in 2019.
Along the boulevard, there will be some landscaping, which will isolate the cycle tracks from the highway. An old bike trail will be hit by the construction, and it will become obsolete because it has not been maintained properly for several years now.
What Happened with the Project?
The original plan was raised in 2001, and it was later approved. The project began in 2008 but there were problems with it, and it soon languished. The expected year for the completion of the project was 2010, but until today, it is still unfinished.
There were some problems with the construction, including issues about roadway limitations. According to the deputy director of the transportation department of Boston, crossing water as well as railroad tracks are some of these roadway limits that forced the planners of the project to redirect the path on the streets of the city.
There were more reasons why the project weakened as it went along even though construction already started at that time. One of them is that Boston could not guarantee access to the Boston Flower Exchange, which is located in the South End and is at a key juncture for the trail.
Nevertheless, this problem has been sold because Flower Exchange has already been sold to a developer in which the plan for the area is to build lab and office space. The deputy director has released a statement that the new owners of the property are quite willing to allow the trail construction to take place, which finally bridges the gap between Albany Street and Melnea Cass Boulevard.
The city intends to build the trail in a few phases. As mentioned, the first section will get underway in spring of next year. The complete path will flow from the Fort Point Harborwalk, which is just near the headquarters of Gillette and the MBTA station as mentioned. Cyclists can use the path further because it will soon be connected to the Southwest Corridor.
The project’s original plan was established in 2001 and was proposed by the Save the Harbor, Save the Bay. The advocacy gave way to the plan of connecting more neighborhoods that are landlocked, so that people can access the waterfront much easier than before. The group was able to raise approximately $1 million for the funds, and the members were also able to find pro-bono engineering services, which provided the early planning and design for the project.
Better Late than Never
The reemergence of the trail and the restarting of the work can have more benefits for the cyclists, residents, and the pedestrians than if the project is terminated. According to the president of the nonprofit group above, it is not easy to be patient sometimes, especially when the project is quite ambitious. However, at the end of the day, what matters is everyone is committed to make sure it will advance.
The group also believes that the South Bay Harbor Trail is important, not only in linking people to the harbor but also in alleviating transportation challenges. Many of Boston neighborhoods face such issue, including Seaport.