The Baker-Polito administration announced last week the groundbreaking of a $13.7 million project to complete the remaining unbuilt sections of the Northern Strand Trail to Western Avenue in Lynn by the summer of 2022.
Two separate projects - one by the City of Everett to extend the southern end of the trail to the Mystic River waterfront, and an on-street extension of the path with improved sidewalks and high-quality protected bikeways through the City of Lynn - are expected to go under construction soon and be completed on a similar timeframe, according to a spokesperson for the state's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
The Everett and Malden sections of the Northern Strand trail have been open since 2012; the Saugus section of the trail is open to walking and bicycling but has remained unpaved to date, and Lynn's section of the trail corridor remains entirely unimproved.
The current state project will pave the remaining unpaved sections and extend the trail into the City of Lynn.
At Western Avenue in Lynn, the trail corridor turns south towards the active Rockport MBTA commuter rail line. There, a short spur will extend into the residential neighborhood around Summer Street, but the official Northern Strand trail will continue eastward to the ocean on new sidewalks and two-way protected bikeways along Lynn Common, Market Street, and the Lynnway, in accordance with a concept plan adopted in 2019.
In a press release announcing the trail project, Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo described the Northern Strand as "an important component of alternative transportation," and State Senator Joe Boncore of Winthrop, the chair of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation, observed that “expanding the Northern Strand Community Trail also provides opportunities to walk and bike rather than sitting in traffic.”
At the southern end of the trail, a critical final link - a bridge across the Mystic River to link the path to the Orange Line - has been designed and permitted, but so far remains unfunded.
"This trail has the potential to be like the Minuteman bikeway for the northern suburbs," said Amber Christoffersen of the Mystic River Watershed Association in a phone interview on Tuesday. "But the Minuteman brings people to Alewife at the end of the Red Line; this needs to connect to the Orange Line. We don’t want the Northern Strand to dead end at the river.”
Officials from the City of Everett and the Encore Boston Harbor casino, which abuts the trail corridor on the Mystic River waterfront, have recently been discussing a proposal to build a gondola across the river, prompting concerns that fundraising efforts for the bridge could be in jeopardy.