Alternate plan floated for bike path

Boston Natural Areas Network and DotBike are beginning a push for a new twist on a old plan for a bike path along the Dorchester coast that was abandoned in the wake of 9/11.

DotBike members Paul Nutting and Rosanne Foley have been hauling a poster-board to civic meetings that details a path that would solve a "missing link" for bicyclists and pedestrians tracing the outline of the Neponset River and Boston Harbor. So far they've gathered some unofficial support for the idea from both the Clam Point and Port Norfolk civic associations.

The old plan, which was moving forward at a fair clip in 2001 with easements and permissions, included a path cantilevered off the east side of the Southeast Expressway beginning at Conley Street near Tenean Beach and extending north - crossing solid ground between the highway and National Grid's landmark gas tank and later connecting to Morrissey Boulevard.

The slightly revised version puts the first half of the path on the west side of I-93 between Conley Street and Victory Road, following an unpaved service road. Users of the path would then cross back under the expressway to pick up the trail across National Grid's property.

To work, the plan would need easements from both the Massachusetts Highway Department and National Grid. Both the agency and the company did not return inquiries this week, and though the Department of Conservation and Recreation is in support of the plan, spokesperson Wendy Fox said conversations on it with National Grid haven't occurred since 2001.

After 9/11 the Office of Homeland Security prohibited any new traffic anywhere near the gas tank.

"There are other opportunities to get vehicles close to the tank than this would be," said Nutting during a discussion at the Port Norfolk Civic earlier this month. "We don't think people walking, bicycling or pushing baby carriages are as much of a threat as people driving by on the expressway or tooling around on a boat nearby."