Public comment heavily favors latest Neponset Greenway link

A rendering shown during a May virtual meeting depicts what a new section of the Neponset Greenway near Morrissey Boulevard might look like. Image courtesy BSC Group/DCR/MassDOT

A still-evolving plan to build out a new section of the popular Neponset Greenway trail is earning high marks from members of the public who submitted comments through a state-run website. More than 50 people have chimed in about the project in the weeks following a May 26 online briefing in which state planners shared their latest preferred route for the “missing link” between Tenean Beach and Morrissey Boulevard.

The existing Greenway trail terminates at the northern end of the beach, leaving cyclists and pedestrians to navigate the 0.7- mile connection without dedicated lanes or an off-road trail. The current plan— now at 25 percent design— would add an elevated boardwalk to carry Greenway users through the National Grid gas tank property and add a new section of the trail behind existing public and private buildings along Freeport Street.

Some people renewed calls for the two key state agencies— MassDOT and the state’s Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)— to reconsider and site the connection along the waterfront instead, using a boardwalk to connect Tenean to Victory Road Park, a state-owned site popular with dog walkers.

For all that, most people urged the state agencies to quickly advance the current plan, which will cost at least $8.5 million by the latest count and would be completed by 2024 under the existing plan.

“This plan is great,” wrote Neil Bacon. “Really hope we can move forward with this and bring it to life!”

Katherine Matasy, who bikes the Greenway several times a week from Milton and Mattapan to Tenean, says she will continue to ride into South Boston but is currently “terrified by crossing the on-ramp to Morrissey Blvd.

“The completion of this project cannot come soon enough,” she said. “As a senior (71) I do not like to ride on streets with traffic. I’ve had too many scary near-accidents. The Greenway is wonderful!! Please hurry!

Rosanne Foley added: “As a long-time Dorchester resident, I am pleased to see plans coming together for this critically necessary regional cycling commuting connection. The construction of the expressway created an obstacle between Dorchester residents and the shore. This project helps re-link local residents with the shore and to jobs in downtown Boston.”

Mark Smith, a Savin Hill resident who uses a bike both to commute and to exercise, said he loves riding on the Greenway but finds getting to it from his home along Morrissey Boulevard a real hazard.

“Between the condition of the pavement and sidewalks as well as the dangerous intersections and merges (particularly where the ramp from 93N to Morrisey Blvd. cuts the non-car path in half), I fear for my life most times and have had several very close calls along this stretch,” he wrote.

Carl Richter was the most succinct in his assessment—and spoke for just about everyone who chimed in: “This is a must do, a no brainer thing to do!”

Maria Lyons, a Port Norfolk civic activist, is leaning toward supporting the project as is, but would prefer to see a raised boardwalk connecting Tenean and Victory Road Park instead.

Another voice advocating for a “water’s edge” route is that of Robb Ross, who wrote to state Rep. Dan Hunt and state Sen. Nick Collins asking them to “intercede,” and offering this assertion: “The proposed path takes us away from the Neponset River because the planners claim that going the [roughly] 920 feet directly up the north side of the SE Expressway to Victory Park is unfeasible due to cost and permitting issues. I do not buy this premise,” he said.

Last week, a spokesperson for the DCR told the Reporter that a waterfront route for the connection was “found to be prohibitive due to construction cost and environmental permitting.”

3 2.png