This story ran on page J1 of the Boston Globe on 6/16/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


Hikers, bikers, and city trails
By Thomas C. Palmer, Jr., 6/16/2002

Some were surprised that our map on South Boston Waterfront development last Sunday identified the South Bay Harbor Trail.

Michael Tyrrell, founder of the South Bay Harbor Trail Coalition, was elated. With billions of dollars worth of new parks, buildings, and underground highways, Tyrrell wants it all connected to the water for hikers and bikers.

The trail is a done deal along Fort Point Channel, because it's part of the Big Dig. But connecting inland neighborhoods to the waterfront is another matter, especially when you have to contend with an elevated interstate highway south of downtown.

The South Bay Harbor Trail is 3.5 miles in Tyrrell's mind, but a half-mile actually exists, along Melnea Cass Boulevard. Paved and landscaped, it will eventually skirt the new Crosstown Hotel at Massachusetts Avenue, sprint along the Mass. Ave. connector road across from the county jail, and arrive at Albany Street. It's pretty dismal there now, the heavy temporary southbound lanes hanging overhead and construction of the southern end of the Big Dig still underway.

But it's a short hop to the Broadway Bridge, whose connections are becoming more pedestrian-friendly. (The handsome bridge never was properly welcomed; a sudden snowstorm snuffed a planned ribbon-cutting in 1998.)

Ultimately, the harbor trail would be part of a circumferential system, connecting inland communities to the Emerald Necklace, cultural institutions, and the water. The city's program, ''Connecting the Corridors,'' includes linking Ruggles to Fenway through Northeastern University.

Tyrrell stood next to Rotch Playground in SoWa (the area South of Washington) recently and pointed out things most people don't see. He pointed west, toward the Southwest Corridor and some of Boston's densest neighborhoods. Then east, ignoring the traffic, toward Fort Point.

''Our intent is to get the Broadway Bridge to work like the Mass. Ave. Bridge, with pedestrians and rollerblading and skating,'' he said. He dreams of a small bike and soda shop in a little triangle just over the Broadway Bridge, in South Boston. The trail creates a ''blue-green synergy'' between the harbor and the Arborway, Tyrrell said.

With a boost from Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, the trail is part way there. It's on the map.

Have a question about development in Boston? E-mail Lots & Blocks at blocks@globe.com.

This story ran on page J1 of the Boston Globe on 6/16/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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