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MassDOT Expands Multimodal Connectivity Across Massachusetts with 20 Miles of Shared Use Paths Opened in 2023

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January 5, 2024


The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is pleased to announce approximately 20 miles of shared use paths opened in 2023 for the first time, expanding multimodal connectivity and opportunities for recreation across Massachusetts while enhancing pedestrian and cyclist safety. Throughout the course of 2023, MassDOT completed dozens of roadway projects that added new bike lanes, sidewalks, shared use paths, and crosswalks. Additionally, MassDOT continued to support improvements in school zones and the expansion of shared paths and trails through programs like Safe Routes to School, Shared Streets and Spaces, Complete Streets, and MassTrails, which have all helped to prioritize investments in municipalities to create safer, multimodal travel.

“I want to commend our dedicated teams at MassDOT for the progress they made over the course of 2023 to give our communities more miles of multimodal connectivity,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Monica Tibbits-Nutt. “These projects are designed to make our transportation network safer, more practical and more inclusive for all users. We have many achievements to be proud of – and great momentum for 2024.”

“When we expand and enhance our inventory of multimodal paths, we are not just removing barriers to biking and walking, but setting the foundations for healthier, safer, more prosperous communities,” said Peter Sutton, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator at MassDOT. “This success was possible thanks to our team’s great dedication, as well as the invaluable collaboration of the community leaders and advocates who continue to work with us on behalf of those who rely on our transportation systems.”        

The 20 miles of shared paths that opened in 2023 was the result of completed projects, either constructed by MassDOT or jointly funded through the MassTrails program, along 14 different trails across Massachusetts. Some notable projects include the following:

  • Shining Tides Section of the Mattapoisett Rail Trail, in Mattapoisett – completed in May 2023, this project constructed the newest 1.5-mile section of the overall 7.5-mile shared path, which now stretches from Mattapoisett to the Fairhaven waterfront. Hundreds of pilings were driven into sensitive areas of the trail, with a great deal of strategic engineering work making it possible for the trail to pass over barrier beach island, tidal stream, the Mattapoisett River and salt marsh. The Mattapoisett Rail Trail also carries the designation of the growing South Coast Bikeway as well as part of the larger East Coast Greenway.
  • Columbia Greenway Rail Trail extension, in Westfield – completed in September 2023, this project constructed the downtown portion of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail in the City of Westfield. This key central segment included the construction of nearly one mile of shared path and the reconstruction or rehabilitation of four railroad bridges, as well as the construction of a new bridge over Main Street. The total length of the Columbia Greenway through Westfield is now over eight miles.
  • Community Path extension, in Somerville – completed in June, this project marked the final phase of the Somerville Community Path and involved construction of a two-mile rail-with-trail, a 10-foot wide paved shared-use path to provide connectivity with an existing path to the west which had opened in 2015. Improvements include direct connections to four new MBTA Green Line stations, as well as a 1,000-foot-long bridge structure safely bypassing several busy street and rail crossings though East Somerville, creating more connections for walking and biking for everyday travel.

In addition to the three projects highlighted above, there were 11 more projects completed in 2023 along the trails listed below, for a total of 14 projects that added 20 miles of shared paths in different communities:

  • Mohican Trail, in Williamstown
  • Mass Central Rail Trail, in Hardwick
  • Mass Central Rail Trail, in Holden
  • Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, in Acton/Concord
  • Quequechan River Rail Trail, in Fall River
  • Groveland Community Trail, in Groveland
  • Northern Strand Trail, in Everett
  • Fenway Path, in Boston
  • Carlton Street Footbridge, in Brookline
  • Middleton Rail Trail, in Middleton
  • Danvers Rail Trail, in Danvers

In May of last year, the MassTrails Team officially launched its Priority Trails Network map. By the end of 2024, 25 additional miles of shared paths are expected to open across the state, further expanding multimodal connectivity.

Through the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program, MassDOT continues to support safe biking and walking for elementary and middle school students, awarding in 2023 five SRTS Signs and Lines grants, which provide design services and up to $10,000 in construction funding to each selected community, for roadway signage and pavement markings on key walking and bicycling routes near public elementary and middle schools. The program currently serves more than 1,140 schools in 281 communities across Massachusetts where projects have been funded. The application period for this year’s round of funding closed on October 6, and awards are expected to be made in early 2024. In addition to these infrastructure activities, the SRTS Program in 2023 continued to reach thousands of students across Massachusetts through 398 bicycle and pedestrian safety trainings, 149 arrival/dismissal observations, 62 detailed walk assessments, and the creation of 162 maps to assist schools in developing walking, biking, and rolling routes to school.

Through the Shared Streets and Spaces Funding Program, MassDOT continues to provide technical and funding assistance to help Massachusetts cities and towns conceive, design and implement tactical changes to curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots. Such improvements have shown to have a positive impact on public health, safe mobility and renewed commerce. To date, the program has awarded $50 million to support 494 projects in 183 municipalities across Massachusetts. This year’s round of funding, which closed on October 31, is currently being scored with 80 projects submitted statewide.

Through the Complete Streets Funding Program, MassDOT continues to support safe, convenient, and comfortable travel for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation. In 2023, MassDOT distributed a total of $15.95 million in awards to 36 municipalities. Grant awards from this program are used by recipient municipalities to fund local multimodal infrastructure projects that improve travel for bicyclists, pedestrians, public transit users, and individuals using other forms of transportation. Examples of project elements that can be implemented through the program include sidewalks, multimodal paths, bicycle lanes, improved street lighting, and pedestrian signalization at crosswalks or intersections.

The MassTrails Team consists of MassDOT, the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Continuing efforts to support the state’s growing network of trails, in 2023 the Healey-Driscoll Administration announced $11 million in its fifth annual round of MassTrails Grants to 68 projects across Massachusetts. The grants provide assistance for the construction, maintenance and improvements for a variety of public trails throughout the state trails system, such as hiking trails, bikeways and shared-use paths.

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