Eyes On the Trails: More Mystic River Greenways In the Works

The Northern Strand Trail extension in Everett, looking south towards the Encore Casino and the Mystic River
The Northern Strand Trail extension in Everett, looking south towards the Encore Casino and the Mystic River, photographed on Oct. 22, 2021.

While visiting Everett Friday afternoon for Governor Baker’s press event, your StreetsblogMASS editor took the opportunity to check out some of the other new trails projects that are being built in the area.

First up: the Everett extension of the Northern Strand Trail (pictured above), which will extend the current Northern Strand 0.8 miles to the south to the Mystic River waterfront next to the Encore Casino.

The extension is still under construction, but paving work is underway on a long stretch of the new trail next to the Encore Casino. The trail will run along wetlands wedged between the MBTA regional rail tracks and the back of Everett’s “Gateway Center” big-box shopping center, then pass under the Revere Beach Parkway to meet the existing Northern Strand pathway near Tileston Street:

The Northern Strand Trail extension in Everett, looking north towards the Revere Beach Parkway overpasses.
The Northern Strand Trail extension is under construction in Everett. Here, the trail passes over a wetland, then follows the MBTA tracks to pass under the Revere Beach Parkway overpasses (visible in the distance).

When it’s finally built, the new Mystic River Bridge will connect this new segment of the Northern Strand to another trail project that’s currently nearing completion: a waterfront path alongside the MBTA’s Charlestown bus yard property.

Greenway projects in progress in the lower Mystic River watershed as of fall 2021. Courtesy of the Mystic River Watershed Association.
Greenway projects in progress in the lower Mystic River watershed as of fall 2021. Courtesy of the Mystic River Watershed Association.

The new trail, which is built on top of a new seawall that will better protect the MBTA’s bus garage from flooding, will offer a direct connection between the Sullivan Square area and Somerville’s Assembly neighborhood and the Draw 7 waterfront park, where the future Mystic River bike and pedestrian bridge will make its landing on the southern side of the river.

Passerby have noted that this trail segment has appeared to be more or less complete for several months now, with final paving and landscaping in place. But the trail’s entrances remain blocked off:

A new trail runs along the recently-rebuilt seawall next to the MBTA's Charlestown bus garage.
A new trail runs along the recently-rebuilt seawall next to the MBTA’s Charlestown bus garage. The trail will provide a waterfront connection between Draw 7 Park in Somerville’s Assembly neighborhood to the Sullivan Square area in Boston.

At Friday’s press event for the Mystic River bridge, StreetsblogMASS asked Dan Driscoll, the Department of Conservation’s new Director of Green Transportation, why the trail hasn’t opened yet.

“It’s pretty much ready to ride,” agreed Driscoll.

But he said that the agency is still waiting on a new crosswalk to be installed across Alford Street, to allow for a safer connection between the new trail segment and the existing Boston Harborwalk trail in the Ryan Playground.

Driscoll said that the new trail could finally open to the public in November.

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