As you may have heard DCR is applying for a big chunk of funds as part of the TIGER III stimulus money to complete the Neponset Greenway. This includes our favorite missing section that we've taken to calling the Dorchester Coast Trail. The other gaps to be filled include the section between Central Ave. in Milton and Mattapan Square and the final segment from the Martini Shell to the Neponset Valley Parkway in Hyde Park. Letters of Support from community organizations and individuals are a great way to boost an application and highlight the importance of projects such as these. Dot Bike has prepared a letter to send in along with the application (text below). The grant deadline is Monday Oct 31st and DCR is planning to submit Friday to avoid the Monday rush.
Help DCR finish the path! If you would like to sign on to the Dot Bike letter you can email us at dotbike AT bostonbiker DOT org or andrewschro AT gmail DOT com and we'll add your name. Deadline to have your name added Friday at noon.
If you want to write your own letter please feel free. We can send you some Key Points to focus on as this is a transportation grant so the emphasis is on transportation and connections to transit and businesses rather than recreation.
October 26, 2011
Secretary Ray LaHood
US Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave SE
Washington DC 20590
Dear Secretary LaHood,
On behalf of DotBike, we would like to express our enthusiastic support for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Neponset River Greenway Completion Project. DotBike is a community of cyclists who promote increased awareness, opportunity, and safety for bicycling in Dorchester and beyond through advocacy, outreach and bicycling events. Dorchester is Boston’s largest neighborhood and has an economically and culturally diverse population.
The Neponset Greenway and Boston Harborwalk offer residents and visitors a network of ten scenic miles of car-free paths along most of the Dorchester Bay shoreline and Neponset River. Many types of people, both cyclists and pedestrians, use the existing path network extensively for many different purposes. These include students attending the University of Massachusetts Boston Campus, commuters going between their homes and jobs and families traveling to the many existing recreational facilities that are in close proximity to these paths.
However, closing the remaining gaps in this network as outlined in the Neponset River Greenway Completion Project will allow the realization of the full potential of this regionally important trail and will particularly benefit those using the trail for transportation. Considering the trail as a whole, completion will provide a safe bicycle-commuting alternative for residents of communities south of Boston as well as the Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park to various parts of the city especially the ‘Innovation’ district, which is in close proximity to the Northern end of the trail. As several businesses and companies are establishing operations in this district, providing a convenient car-free option for reaching this area is desirable. In addition, the path system will provide convenient bicycle access for Boston residents to the Blue Hills Reservation to the south, which has an existing extensive network of hiking and mountain biking trails that are used by many for healthful recreation and exercise.
Completion of each of the missing sections will have particular benefits for local users.
The northernmost gap in the existing trail extends between the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMASS) campus to the north and Tenean beach, a DCR managed public beach, to the south. Currently to navigate this gap requires riding or walking along relatively high traffic streets that lack lane markings and sidewalks. The UMASS Boston campus is the second largest in the UMASS system and serves over 15,000 students. There are currently no on-campus dormitories and students must commute to classes each day. Making the connection between southern Dorchester and the UMASS campus will increase non-car commuting options for students who reside locally but to the south of campus. The proposed path to close this gap will also provide safe and convenient access to local businesses that are adjacent to the trail alignment and currently do not have pedestrian or bicycle friendly access options.
Completing the section to extend the greenway from the current terminus at Central Ave. in Milton to Mattapan Square and provide a link to the southern greenway will have numerous benefits. Perhaps most importantly this section of the trail will provide a link to an important transit hub at Mattapan Square station, which is the terminus of one branch of the MBTA red line via the Mattapan High Speed Trolley and also serves many local and regional bus routes. Many Mattapan residents rely on public transportation accessed from this station and wish to have a safe and convenient way to access the station via foot or bicycle. Extending the path into Mattapan Square also provides access for both employees and patrons to the many locally owned businesses located there.
Completion of the southernmost section of trail from the currently existing terminus on Truman Parkway at Francis D. Martini Memorial Shell Park and Moynihan Recreation Area to the Neponset Valley Parkway will provide Boston residents increased access to the Blue Hills Reservation.
Reducing the number of automobiles on our roadways can only benefit the health and wellbeing of Dorchester residents; particularly those living near the freeway. Many people wish to reduce their carbon footprint and be healthy by using alternative transportation. In addition, Dorchester has a significant population that is unable to afford the costs associated with owning an automobile and relies primarily on public transportation. Completion of this path system will provide new commuting options including useful links to MBTA service. In addition, there will be more options for accessing local businesses and recreational facilities by bicycle and walking.
Dot Bike members have attended many meetings held by DCR and others to outline plans and discuss options regarding completion of the Neponset River Greenway. The extensive public process and the fact that DCR has listened to community feedback and modified their plans to reflect that has led to overall enthusiasm for this project from the community. Strong community support is a bellweather for a successful project and we believe that this project will be truly successful.