The state Department of Conservation and Recreation has scheduled a meeting for Nov. 17 to talk up plans to convert a former railroad bridge over the Neponset River in Lower Mills into a pedestrian bridge.
Built in 1917, the bridge is between Dorchester and Milton. When constructed, it was aimed at serving the Walter Baker Chocolate Factory, which shut down in 1965 when the parent company moved operations to Delaware. The factory, a local institution since the mid-1800s, has since been converted into condominiums.
The agency’s plans call for the bridge to connect the Neponset River Greenway’s pedestrian and bicycle paths and the condominiums.
The project, expected to cost $843,300, will likely get underway during the winter, with work lasting into next summer. The plans include repairing the bridge’s steel structure, replacing railroad ties with a 10-foot-wide timber deck, and a new paved path. DCR officials say the railroad bridge has been accumulating rust. “It’s been abandoned for many, many, many years,” said Cathy Garnett, who has worked on Neponset River projects for DCR. The path runs from Adams Street through an arch of the condominium complex to Central Ave. “It creates a loop and a public access route on both sides of the river,” Garnett said.
The project will be funded through a statewide bridge repair program. Winn Development, which is redeveloping the historic Baker mill complex, is shouldering $70,000 of the cost. “This bridge will create a nice, direct connection between the pathway and residential areas across the river, helping make the greenway easily accessible for everyone,” DCR Commissioner Richard Sullivan Jr. said in a statement.
The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. in the Park Mill function room of the Baker Square Condominiums on Adams Street.
Separately, the agency continues to weigh ways to connect, as part of the Neponset Greenway, Pope John Paul II Park to the Hyde Park neighborhood, and Milton’s Central Ave. to Mattapan Square. The trail currently runs 2.5 miles from Pope John Paul II Park to Central Ave. “We’re absolutely getting closer,” Wendy Fox, an agency spokeswoman said.