Happy Trail to You
by John Dieckmann
On April 26, the Community Path Implementation Advisory Committee (CPIAC) and Pare Engineering, the Community Path Feasibility Study contractor, held a public meeting to present their final evaluation of route alternatives for the path, construction cost estimates, and potential funding sources.
From west to east, the end-to-end route that ranks highest in the evaluation methodology consists of the following segments:
• At the Waltham city line, the path would be on the north side of the commuter rail tracks, then as it approaches Waverley Square it rises to street level and crosses Lexington Street, Waverley Square itself, and Trapelo Road. Both street crossings would have signals. In Waverley Square, the commuter rail station would be covered over, creating additional surface space at ground level. Elevators providing access to the station would be included.
Over the Tracks, Under the Tracks
• The route continues eastward along the south side of the commuter rail tracks until it reaches the town yard, then continues along the edge of the town yard adjacent to the tracks.
• Leaving the town yards, the route enters a long ramp that would be constructed behind the Belmont Village parking lot, then crosses the commuter rail tracks on an overpass to reach the south side of Pleasant Street. The route continues between Pleasant Street and the commuter rail tracks, past the Clark Street pedestrian bridge to the Belmont Center commuter rail station area, and crosses the stone railroad bridge, still on the north side of the tracks.
• The route continues along the north side of the tracks to the Alexander Avenue Extension, crosses under the tracks in a pedestrian tunnel to be constructed, thence along the south side of tracks (behind the high school) to Brighton Street. By crossing the tracks and Brighton Street, via a signalized intersection to provide safe crossing, the path connects with the existing Fitchburg Cut-off Path.
Waverley Station Improvements Coming
The estimated construction cost for this end-to-end route is $27.5 million. A substantial portion of this estimated construction budget is for redoing the Waverley commuter rail station and for construction of the pedestrian tunnel at Alexander Avenue. The Waverley Station redo is an economical solution to the need to bring the station into compliance with the ADA by providing elevator access to the station from street level. The need for a safe pedestrian crossing of the tracks between the Winn Brook neighborhood and the high school and Concord Avenue has long been recognized, but difficult to fund.
The major funding source for the project would be federal highway funds allocated in the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Improvement Plan. Initial funds for detailed design could come from a combination of town community preservation funds and privately raised funds.
John Dieckmann is a Belmont Town Meeting member and board member of Belmont Citizens Forum.