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MassTrails Grant Program Announces Funding for 81 Trail Projects Across the Commonwealth

Views of the Saugus River marshes along the new Northern Strand Trail in West Lynn.

Views of the Saugus River marshes along the new Northern Strand Trail in West Lynn.

The commonwealth's inter-agency MassTrails grant program has committed $11.4 million in funding to support the design, construction, or maintenance of 81 different trails projects across the state this year.

MassTrails, a collaboration between the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), MassDOT, and municipalities, 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, which announced its first round of grants in 2019, has proven remarkably popular, and lawmakers and private philanthropists have more than doubled the program's funding from $5 million in 2019 to $11.4 million this year.

As in past years, the grants will advance dozens of trail projects that will fill in missing links in the state's growing network of off-street multi-use paths and walking trails.

This year's funding includes a $1.3 million private donation from the Conine Family Foundation, which is funding three projects to fill in greenway gaps in the Boston region - a feasibility study for connecting the Neponset Greenway to the Blue Hills, design and permitting work for a new bridge to the Neponset Greenway from Osceola Street in Hyde Park, and design work for the Mass. Central Rail Trail gaps in Waltham and Weston (disclosure: the Conine Family Foundation is also a major supporter of StreetsblogMASS).

The proposed Osceola Street bridge would create a key connection from Boston's Hyde Park neighborhood to the Neponset River Greenway. Hyde Park residents currently only have limited to the Neponset's riverfront multi-use path, which is on the Milton side of the river.

"The Neponset River corridor west of Mattapan Square gets narrow and steep. There's conservation land on both sides of the river, but there's not good access from the Hyde Park and Mattapan neighborhoods of Boston," said Ian Cooke, executive director of the Neponset River Watershed Association, at a press event announcing the grant awards on Tuesday morning in Milton. "If you can link them together, you can open up a lot of access to this conservation land. It adds up to more than the sum of its parts."

Further upstream, the Town of Norwood won a $50,000 grant to advance design on the proposed Cooper Riverfront Park, which would create a new public access point to the river for an environmental justice neighborhood on Norwood's south side.

"It's currently an overgrown lot, but this would be a 7-acre, urban riverfront park," said Holly Jones, Norwood's Conservation Planner, at Tuesday's event. "There are very few access points for people to get to the water. It's a great location in a dense, walkable neighborhood, next to a school, and the park would be ADA-accessible."

Other notable MassTrails grants this year include:

    • $408,000 for the City of Framingham and $240,000 for the Town of Sudbury to design their respective segments of the proposed Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (the Sudbury grant will fund design work on the segment of the Bruce Freeman Trail between the Framingham border and the Mass. Central Rail Trail; the northern segment, running from the MCRT to Concord, is due to begin construction later this year).
    • $200,000 for the Town of Belmont to complete 25% design on Phase 2 (from Clark Street to the Waltham city line) of the Belmont Community Path. When complete, Belmont's segment of the Mass. Central Rail Trail will be complete, with a continuous connection to downtown Boston via the Somerville Community Path.
    • $500,000 for the Town of Barnstable to extend the Cape Cod Rail Trail further west.
    • $396,584 for the Town of Clinton to design its segment of the Mass. Central Rail Trail, which includes an 1,110-foot-long abandoned train tunnel.
    • $500,000 for the City of Waltham to restore the Linden Street Bridge, a steel truss bridge on Waltham's segment of the Mass. Central Rail Trail.
    • $300,000 for the Town of Southampton to design and permit the Southampton Greenway, which will eventually connect to and extend the existing Manhan Rail Trail through Easthampton to downtown Northampton.

MassTrails will solicit applications for another round of grants in November.

A full listing of this year's MassTrails grants is available here.

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