New Trails We Can Look Forward to In 2024
7:10 AM EST on December 26, 2023
In the past year, MassDOT and municipalities across the Commonwealth cut ribbons on over a dozen multi-use pathway projects, opening up roughly 20 miles' worth of new bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
We covered a number of those new trail openings in the past year: the 2-mile Community Path in Somerville (which will ultimately connect to the cross-state Mass. Central Rail Trail), the Bruce Freeman bridge over Route 2 in Concord and Acton, a new Northern Strand Trail connection under Revere Beach Parkway in Everett, the new Carlton Street Footbridge in Brookline, a new segment of the Fenway Path in Boston, and the downtown extension of the Columbia Greenway in Westfield.
But 2024 is shaping up to be an even bigger year for the Commonwealth's growing network of off-street pathways. MassDOT officials estimate that another 25 miles' worth of trails will open up this year – and eight more projects are scheduled to break ground. Here's a roundup of what we can look forward to:
Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in Sudbury – 4.9 miles
The next phase of the Bruce Freeman Trail will extend 5 miles further south from Concord into Sudbury and complete a connection to the Mass. Central Rail Trail.
According to a November newsletter from the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, several segments of this project – marked #3 in the map below – have reportedly gotten their first course of pavement.
Mass. Central Rail Trail from Hudson to Sudbury (7.5 mi.) and in Waltham (2.75 mi.)
Work on an underground Eversource power line along the Mass. Central Rail Trail corridor from Hudson to Sudbury is roughly halfway complete. When it's finished, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will pave a new trail on top of the freshly-cleared railbed to connect the existing Assabet River trail in Hudson to a point near Landham Road near the Sudbury-Wayland town line (marked #2 in the map above).
Further east, residents of the City of Waltham have been enjoying their own new segments of the Mass. Central Rail Trail (marked #1 in the map above) since this summer, even though it's still technically under construction. Unfinished work on several bridges and road crossings is expected to wrap up for an official ribbon-cutting in the year to come.
And as we reported last week, the short gap in the MCRT over Route 128 between the Waltham and Weston trail sections has been funded for construction, which could begin next year.
World War II Memorial Trail in Mansfield and Norton – 5 miles
The Bristol County town of Norton has been advancing its segment of the World War II Memorial Path, which currently is a 1.6-mile trail that extends from downtown Mansfield to the Mansfield airport near the Mansfield-Norton town line.
Norton's 5-mile extension would continue the trail past the Mansfield airport to a point near the town's southern boundary with Taunton. Paving was underway as of November.
Service Road Path in Sandwich – 4.1 miles
In the Cape Cod town of Sandwich, construction is well underway for a new 6.5-mile shared-use path that parallels the Route 6 Service Road between Route 130 (about 3 miles south of the existing Cape Cod Canal path) to Chase Road, near the Sandwich-Barnstable town line.
The project will fill in a lengthy gap between the existing Cape Cod Canal pathway network and the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT), which currently ends about 10 miles to the east of Chase Road in the Town of Yarmouth.
The Towns of Yarmouth and Barnstable are expected to start work on their own 4-mile western extension of the CCRT sometime in 2024.
More Projects Breaking Ground
In addition to the projects mentioned above, we can expect several other trail links to break ground in the year to come, including:
- The downtown Lynn/Nahant Beach extension of the Northern Strand Trail (approx. 2 miles)
- The Independence Greenway extension in Peabody (1.3 mi.)
- The Georgetown segment of the Border to Boston Trail (2.4 mi.)
- The Yankee Doodle Rail Trail in Billerica (3.9 mi.), which will ultimately connect Billerica's town center to the Minuteman Bikeway via the Bedford Narrow Gauge Trail
- The Lawrence & Manchester Rail Trail in Lawrence (1.4 mi.)
- The Waltham-Weston connection of the Mass. Central Rail Trail over Route 128 (0.5 mi.)
- A downtown Fitchburg extension of the new Twin Cities Rail Trail (0.5 mi)
Finally, though there's been precious little public communication about the project, MassDOT officials have told StreetsblogMASS that they still expect the new Mystic River bike and pedestrian bridge between Everett and Somerville to begin construction in 2024.
This story was corrected at 11 a.m. on Dec. 30. The initial version of this story reported that the Service Road Path in Sandwich opening in 2024 would be 6.5 miles long; in fact the path will be about 4.1 miles long.