Greenway construction slated for August finish

Yet-to-be-improved segment as seen from Henderson St. and Route 16, looking north.

Work on the Alewife Greenway path will finish by the end of August and will include a ten-foot-wide boardwalk path connecting Broadway with the Henderson Street Bridge, according to DCR Director of Recreation and Facility Planning Dan Driscoll.

In a wide-ranging presentation at the winter social of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, Driscoll, the chief architect of many DCR multiuse paths, also said that the project would include a signalized crossing over the Mystic River Parkway at the north end of the path.

This crossing will allowing walkers and cyclists to connect to other paths he said are now in the planning stage along the Mystic River as far as the Wellington Bridge.

To the south, Driscoll said, the DCR has recently bought a right of way to connect the Fresh Pond area with the Charles River near the Arsenal Mall in Watertown.

Driscoll’s Greenway news was a small part of his presentation, which touched on DCR path projects as far away as Pittsfield, including a dramatic Alewife-to-Northampton path that he predicted could “spark a wave of eco-tourism” unlike anything in New England.

Of the Broadway-to-Henderson-Street segment, currently a narrow concrete path that is badly deteriorated, Driscoll said that technical problems had led to uncertainty about how to proceed that was only resolved recently.

The segment passes over a built-up bank that is partially cantilevered over the Alewife Brook. When the DCR investigated the site, Drisicoll said it found “more utilities under there than you’d think could fit,” complicating plans to extend the path.

He said he resisted pressure to scale the path down to a five-foot paved path and ultimately won approval to build a ten-foot boardwalk instead.

Arlington’s Bicycle Advisory Committee generally meets on the third Wednesday of each month. Its meetings, and its annual winter social, are open to the public.

My Alewife reports depart a bit from Mass. Ave., the subject of this blog, but it’s fun and I know this coverage is interesting to people. Here is the previous post in the series, and here is the very first. (Update: And the next.)

8 comments so far

  1. Bob Sprague on

    Thanks for this informative update, Adam. I rely on Word on the Street for news about this path. The Advocate appears to rely on letters from Sunnyside residents — worthy voices, but only part of the story.

    Bob Sprague

    • Adam Auster on

      Thanks, Bob! In fairness to the Advocate, I am not trying to cover the controversy around this, just news (usually with photos) of what is going on near my house. A narrow slice rather than a comprehensive guide. (Unlike what I have tried to do with my Mass. Ave. coverage.)

      Also not everyone is going to be interested in the level of detail that I provide, which includes (for example) a close up photograph of individual particles of the stone dust used for the path bed.

      It is clear to me from conversations and correspondence that many Arlington residents have very positive feelings about the path and already use it both for recreation and to walk to the Alewife T.

      • Bob Sprague on

        From my perspective, your blog provides the definite upside of citizen journalism, in which “my world” becomes “our world.”


  2. Alex Toth on

    Adam, this is great information I never would have found on my own.

    I actually live by the river near the Rt 60 / Mystic Valley Parkway area. Do you know if there are plans to improve that part of the path? Right now it’s a total mess. Just off the top of my head I can think of:

    1) Crossing Mystic Valley Parkway into Medford on foot is very dangerous, with not even a crosswalk
    2) The path along the river is barely maintained except for mowing
    3) The bridge over the Mystic was hit by a cab last year and they didn’t bother to replace the section of the bridge that was broken off.

    • Adam Auster on

      Alex, if Dan said anything specific about the Mystic north of the Alewife I do not remember it. He did describe general plans to fix up the paths along the Mystic as far as Assembly Square.

      Generally, there seems to be no end of plans, but a shortage of funding. There was talk of improving the Alewife path when I moved to Arlington 16 years ago. It took a global economic crisis, and the federal stimulus appropriation, to build it.

      Sorry I do not know more!

  3. Stephanie on


    For the frist time, cause I am not down that section often, I saw the entry of the continuation of the Alewife Greenway across the Minuteman by Alewife and heading toward Belmont. Do you know if that is complete and where exactly it leads? I know it is further afield for you too, but I can’t wait to check it out sometime. I just hope it goes for more than 20 feet.


    • Adam Auster on

      Hi Stephanie! I think you are either describing the path across the Route-2-exit ramp, which leads to Discovery Park, or the Fitchburg Cut-Off Path, which goes between the train tracks and Little River.

      Most likely the former, because access to the Fitchburg (named for the rail line) at Alewife is current blocked by a chain-link fence.

      The Discovery Park path is not very long and has been completed for a few years. It is marked on the map emblazoned on those obelisks the DCR has put along the Greenway. It’s the little spur that leads to parking.

      If you go there, be careful crossing that ramp! There is a dirt path, sometimes muddy, along the river to the south that you can follow as far as Little Pond and the southern edge of the Silver Maple Forest. parts of this are very pleasant.

      If you head towards the road you can cross back into Arlington over Route 2 using that rickety metal pedestrian overpass. On the Arlington side it ends in the notorious Mugar property by Thorndike Field. Not the prettiest walk, but kind of interesting, especially if you have been hearing about these places.

      I hope I understood correctly where it is that you were asking about!

  4. Doris Birmingham on

    I am a walker and only recently discovered the Greenway. I’m very excited to add this to one of my daily walking routes. My one concern: who is going to keep this area clean? I lead the Spy Pond Park beautification effort, and I know from experience that keeping the trash picked up from even that small area is a major effort, requiring a lot of volunteers (who also take care of the beds and do their best to control invasive species). The greenway area is already full of trash. What are the plans for keeping this very large area picked up? Doris, Arlington

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