Grand Junction Path

3 posts

Construction Underway on Grand Junction Path

After years of hard work and persistent advocacy, the first shovel has finally hit the ground on the Grand Junction Path in Cambridge.

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Years ago, I successfully led a unified community effort to stop a state proposal that would have seen the path be used for commuter rail trains and ethanol transportation. Since then, along with advocates like Friends of the Grand Junction and Friends of the Community Path, I have worked with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, MIT, and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority to develop plans that will turn the Grand Junction into a safe pedestrian and bicycle path that will act as an urban necklace connecting thousands of Cambridge residents to businesses, parks, and schools. As this brief 2013 video below shows, once completed, the Grand Junction Path would improve community livability by creating a streamlined connection between Cambridgeport, Area 4, Harrington/Wellington, and East Cambridge. There remains a lot of hard work to be done before this project is complete, but I’m optimistic that we’ll get there because of the dedicated commitment of all the stakeholders involved. Please click this link to an update I posted earlier this year for more info on the Grand Junction Path Project.

Progress Continues on Grand Junction Path

Exciting times are ahead for the Grand Junction Multiuse Path.  Last month the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) announced that they would start construction this year on the first section of the path. When the shovel hits the ground, it will be a true milestone in the history of this project.

What makes the Grand Junction Multiuse Path such an important project is its ability to connect so many amenities in Cambridge and Somerville. By connecting existing parks and public facilities throughout the corridor, the path will act as an urban necklace that makes open space and other neighborhoods more accessible for residents of Cambridgeport, Area 4, Harrington/Wellington and East Cambridge.  It has the potential to serve as a critical link between paths along (and over) the Charles River on one end and as a connection to the Somerville Community Path and Minuteman Commuter Bikeway on the other. It has immense potential to improve the quality of life for our neighborhoods by providing safe pedestrian and cyclist access to a large part of Cambridge, including a number of schools and parks.

An overnight success this is not.  It’s the culmination of many years of hard work, patience, and focus. Advocates like Friends of the Grand Junction have greatly contributed to the viability and public awareness of this project. Friends of the Community Path, whose primary focus has been on the Somerville Community Path, have worked with MassDOT to guarantee that a future connection between the Somerville Community Path and the Grand Junction Multiuse Path would not be physically obstructed by the Green Line Extension. These groups, along with many residents and officials, have had the vision to look ahead to the path’s creation, and have found ways to leverage new development to make progress on the Grand Junction path.

Along the way we have dealt with proposed uses for the Grand Junction route for Commuter Rail Trains and Ethanol Transport that could have impacted future use as a multiuse path. Advocates, legislators, and the community have been able to suppress both proposals and preserve the viability of the Grand Junction Multiuse Path.

The start of construction on a portion of the path–which has been made possible through the help of MIT and the CRA—means that we must continue to work to find ways to make construction of the entire path possible.  At a recent council meeting I moved to take two steps that I believe will keep this momentum going.  The first is asking the CRA to continue its work with the City of Cambridge to help us understand the complexities of land uses along the path heading towards the Somerville boarder.  With their help we can start to make progress on portions of the path that have yet to be studied in depth.

More importantly I have asked the City of Cambridge to consider creating a Grand Junction Overlay District along the length of the path.  An overlay district can help to shape the vision of the path while attempting to alleviate some possible obstacles identified by many studies of the project. It can help to preserve setbacks while ensuring development won’t encroach on the path while allowing more flexibility to landowners who may be redeveloping parcels along the path.  This will help our long term visions and goals for the corridor and I hope get people more excited about what this can be. Imagine a future where instead of the rails being a back alley, they are embraced and it becomes the front door to future residents, students and retail that want to take advantage of a bustling, commuter-centric path connecting the eastern half of Cambridge.

There remains much work to be done, but at the moment I will be happy to see the first shovels break ground.

If you want to hear more about the Grand Junction please join us at the Transportation Committee Meeting at 4 pm on Wednesday, March 25 at City Hall.

Grand Junction Summer Ride

The Friends of the Grand Junction group is hosting a sequel to their successful February bike ride on Sunday, August 24. The Bike Tour of the Corridor II: Summer Edition will take off at noon at the BU Bridge, and will follow the route of the future Grand Junction Path from the BU Bridge to the Somerville Community Path connection. There will be multiple explanatory stops along the way, and the tour is open to all. For more details and to RSVP, please visit this link.