Bike Path Considered Under Tobin

By Seth Daniel

As economic development caters more towards residential developments throughout Greater Boston, inexplicably access to Boston via bicycle has become a strong selling point for many communities like Everett, Cambridge and Somerville.

Touting bike paths that connect to the North Shore and to Downtown Boston, those communities have lured new residents by the dozens.

Chelsea, however, has one big obstacle to such success.

The Mystic/Tobin Bridge – a giant green behemoth that seems to cut off bicycle and pedestrian access across the Mystic River at the head.

Some 11 city councillors are looking to change that, though, if only in the distant future.

A unanimous resolution passed the City Council on Monday that Councillor Roy Avellaneda put forth in order to spur the state into looking at creating a bicycle and pedestrian path under the Tobin Bridge – connecting the big City to Chelsea once again.

Avellaneda said the state is currently in an eight-year planning process and he hopes that they will take some of that money to look into the feasibility of a bike path that would run under the Tobin and would be able to raise up for any ships passing through. The pedestrian path would stay lower to the water and would accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians in a 10-foot-wide thoroughfare that would run along the girders underneath the bridge.

He envisions it starting at the end of Broadway and ending on Chelsea Street in Charlestown, connecting the two areas as they once were connected prior to the construction of the Tobin.

“I know this can be done,” he said. “In doing so, I want to get this on the radar and put this as part of the long-term planning…As a community, we’re talking about less use of cars and this can be a great way to do it. If you look at Cambridge, Somerville and Arlington, they’re renting bikes from a Hubway Station and commuting to Boston. You can envision that on Broadway if we had this connection.”

Councillor Luis Tejada agreed.

“This has always been a thought of mine to for awhile,” he said. “This could be a great chance for us to connect Chelsea to Boston.”

Councillor Matt Frank said the idea was considered some years ago by students from Harvard University, who put a proposal together for such a connection. Some of the concerns he had though were how it would work in high winds, when LNG takers come through and during a blizzard.

Said Council President Dan Cortell, “For us to be part of this would be a luxury for people to get into Boston and would certainly help property values.”

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