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Public urges Somerville Community Path be included in MBTA’s Green Line extension project

By Matt Byrne
Globe Correspondent / December 15, 2011
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Scores of comments have poured into state transportation planners after the release of a draft assessment of the environmental impacts of the MBTA’s proposed Green Line extension. The comments, posted to the Green Line project website, catalog continued displeasure by many residents, organizations, and officials at the delay of the project until 2018.

Many comments also expressed dismay at the exclusion in the environmental report of plans to fully extend the Somerville Community Path to North Point.

“The Somerville Community Path extension is the crucial link in the off-street network of bicycle and pedestrian greenways in the Boston metropolitan area,’’ wrote leaders of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, a group that promotes open space. “Without this 2.5-mile link, the popular 13-mile Minuteman Bikeway, which connects with dozens of additional miles of other multiuse trails to the west and northwest of Boston, bicycling and walking commuters cannot safely reach downtown Boston,’’ the conservancy continued.

Residents called for the path to be funded with the Green Line.

The Community Path extension “is, I’ll bet a nickel, the best value you’ll ever see in a transportation project,’’ wrote Bathsheba Grossman, a Somerville resident.

Also posted was a letter from the US Department of the Interior, agreeing that there would be no feasible alternative for the use of property along the extension’s route, some of which is eligible for historical status. Those properties are the Lechmere Viaduct, Lechmere Station, the former Somerville Automobile Co. in Medford, and the Reid and Murdock warehouse in Somerville’s Gilman Square.

Local municipalities also evaluated the state’s report. The Medford Historical Commission argued against the state’s exclusion of dozens of properties along the proposed Green Line extension to Route 16 in Medford.

The commission requested that the state reevaluate a commercial property at 330 Boston Ave. and the Walking Court apartment complex, saying they could be affected by the extension and warrant further study.

Matt Byrne can be reached a mbyrne.globe@gmail.com.

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