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New MassTrails Grant Program Funds 71 Trail Projects on a Shoestring Budget

A person rides a bike along the Minuteman path in East Arlington.

The Minuteman bike path in East Arlington, pictured in May 2019.

A new statewide grant program has released its first round of awards, stretching $5 million in state and federal funds to advance dozens of trail projects across the state.

MassTrails, a relatively new collaboration between the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and MassDOT, aims to fill gaps in the state's growing network of off-street multi-use paths and trails by providing matching funds to local fundraising efforts.

The program's budget is extremely modest: at a total cost of $5 million, these 71 grants will cost taxpayers less than a MassDOT project to replace the lighting at the I-93/Route 3 interchange in Braintree. But these funds will leverage an additional $9 million in matched funds and in-kind contributions from private and local sources, and the connections these new trails make will considerably increase the value and utility of existing trails across the state.

In a state where trails and bike lanes often dead-end at town lines, MassTrails deserves credit for taking an inter-jurisdictional approach. At a press event announcing the grants in Lowell last month, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said, "we're going to put our agencies together to think about where those gaps are and think about how we can work with all of you to get things done."

A new round of MassTrails grant applications is expected to be announced this fall.

Some of the bigger projects being funded with this year's grants include:

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