BOSTON – Throughout 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) worked to improve and increase the infrastructure for bicycle and pedestrian travel across the state, and those efforts were recognized nationally. In November, Massachusetts ranked the fourth most bicycle-friendly state in the nation by the League of American Bicyclists. The report card took into consideration infrastructure, funding, policies, programs and education when ranking each state on bicycle-friendliness.
In 2017, Governor Baker established an Interagency Trails Team which is led by the Governor’s office and is comprised of staff from MassDOT, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The purpose of the team is to help develop a unified vision for a trails network and translate that into strategic investments, policy innovation to facilitate development of trails, and an enhanced relationship with municipal partners. As part of the Interagency Trails Team, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the commitment of at least $1.5 million to fund designs for the Northern Strand Community Trail. When completed, the trail will span 10 miles through the communities of Everett, Lynn, Malden, Revere, and Saugus.
“Multi-modal transportation projects such as shared-use paths and trails provide critical connections for travel and recreation and ensure the further development of transportation networks across the Commonwealth,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “MassDOT is pleased to be part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s Interagency Trails Team which provides a unified vision for the development and strategic investment in future statewide trail projects.”
“Through increased Recreational Trail Program funding and other trail investments, the Baker-Polito Administration has prioritized investing in new and existing infrastructure to expand recreational opportunities and connect communities across the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “As part of the Interagency Trails Team, we are proud to work with other state agencies and municipalities to support important trail projects that provide residents across the state access to Massachusetts’ beautiful natural resources.”
Here are a few highlights from 2017:
• Completed the Quequechan River Rail Trail, in Fall River which connects to Britland Park crossing under I-195 linking it to the city’s South End neighborhood district.
• Added pedestrian crossing signals, new sidewalks and bike lanes on Cambridge Street at Soldiers Field Road in Boston.
• Completed the latest extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Adams.
• Completed the Infra Space Project Park at I-93 Underpass in Boston.
• Added 3.5 miles to the Blackstone Valley Greenway/Trail in Uxbridge, Millville and Blackstone which is part of a larger trail effort linking Worcester to Providence.
• Completed the Nantucket multi-use path connecting Washington Street to Orange Street.
• Completed the Bradford Rail Trail Extension in Haverhill, which is part of a regional network of trails planned from Lawrence to Newburyport.
• Completed the Greenfield Road Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge as part of the Franklin County Bikeway.
• MassDOT also hosted over 800 attendees at the 2017 Moving Together Conference which focused on promoting active transportation across all modes and remains the New England region’s premier networking event for bicycling, walking and transit.
• Baystate Bike Week participants organized over 100 bike-friendly events statewide to encourage new riders and raise awareness about the many benefits of bicycle transportation.
• Bicycle and pedestrian safety through campaigns such as “Scan the Street for Wheels and Feet” in June to highlight the importance of active, alert driving, walking and cycling.
• MassDOT’s RMV division also produced a video educating drivers how to exit a vehicle to prevent “dooring” cyclists through promotion of safety.
Complete Streets Program grants distributed $12.2 million to 33 participating municipalities to improve over 200 intersections and crosswalks and add 16 miles of new or reconstructed sidewalks and trails.
In addition, the Massachusetts Bicycle and Transportation Plans continued to develop through online and in-person public outreach. MassDOT’s 5-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP) sets aside $60 million ($15 million annually beginning in FY18) for high-priority projects and initiatives upon completion of both statewide Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans.
“The Baker-Polito Administration continues to prioritize bicycling and walking as an effective, enjoyable and efficient mode of transportation. We are committed to promoting safe, accessible and reliable bicycle and pedestrian transportation options for people across the Commonwealth,” said MassDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator Pete Sutton. “It’s extremely gratifying to be recognized once again by the League of American Bicyclists as one of the top states in the nation when it comes to promoting bicycling programs and policies. Most recently, our efforts resulted in improved connectivity and safety for our customers traveling along our growing on and off-road cycling networks.”
In June of 2017, Governor Baker announced a 60 percent increase in the budget of the Recreation Trails Program (RTP), allowing the DCR to expand its pool of grant winners who construct or maintain trails across the Commonwealth. Recently the Administration further increased funding to $3.2 million per year for the next two years. Applications for the first round of grants that will take advantage of this funding were due on February, 15. Since 2015, under the Baker-Polito Administration, approximately 150 miles of new trail have been designed, planning, funded, and/or completed with trail rehabilitation and repair also becoming a major priority.