Exploring the Somerville Community Path

Ed Greable Blogger October 24, 2018

Stretching 0.8 miles from the Alewife Linear Park border to Lowell Street via Davis Square, the Somerville Community Path is a mixed-use path connecting to other paths in the area.

The History of the Somerville Community Path

The history of the Somerville Community Path dates back to 1830 when the Boston and Lowell Railroad was first chartered. Five years later, the railroad, which is now the MBTA Lowell Line, started service. Running from near Alewife on the Cambridge-Arlington border to Lowell Street in Somerville, the path follows a railroad right-of-way that was established in 1870. Passenger service ran along this path from that time until 1927. By 1973, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority acquired the rights of way and went on to create the existing paths in 1985. Construction on a quarter-mile extension from Cedar Street to Lowell Street began in 2013 and was opened in mid-2015.

Connecting Communities with the Somerville Community Path

The original path of what is now the Somerville Community Path, which was completed in 1985, connected Alewife Linear park to Davis Square. A 0.6 mile extension was added in 1992 to connect Davis Square to Cedar Street, while construction to extend to Lowell Street began in 2013. Therefore, while the community path is short, it connects many major areas within the community. The path also serves as a continuation of the Cambridge Linear Park, which runs along the Cambridge-Somerville border west to Alewife Station. Along the way, pedestrians have access to grave-level crosswalks while bicyclists are routed via nearby streets. The paths join again at Grove Street and continue to Lowell Street.

The Future of the Somerville Community Path

The Somerville Community path is currently receiving some upgrades in order to improve accessibility while also increasing public safety. Funded in part by the Community Preservation Act, the project is focusing primarily on the section of the path between the Davis Square MBTA station and the Cambridge city line. While this portion of the path is being worked on, it will remain closed to bicyclists and pedestrians.

The project, which is expected to be completed sometime in November, involves making drainage improvements and retaining wall repairs. The current drainage system has been unable to handle average rainfall, with two catch basins failing and resulting in flooding of the path. Crews are in the process of installing two new catch basins that will be tied directly into the city’s drainage system on Thorndike Street.

A wooden retaining wall on the southern end of the path is also going to re restored as a part of the project. The current wall has deteriorated over time, with one section of the path being about five feet below the private properties that border it. The current wall was constructed to hold back the soil in order to clear room for the path, but the new wall will be updated with new structural reinforcements as well as a concrete facing wall. The project will also involve surface restoration work, including repaving the existing path from the Cambridge city line to Buena Vista Road.

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