The MBTA and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) are nearing completion of the shoreline stabilization project at MBTA’s Charlestown Bus Facility along the Mystic River – giving full view to a much more stable shoreline and a smart looking bike path connection along the waterfront.
The bike path is the most notable achievement for the community amenities, and would be a connector between the under-construction Draw 7 Park in Somerville – to include the proposed Mystic River Pedestrian and Bike Bridge from Everett – and the upcoming Sullivan Square/Rutherford Avenue Re-Design bicycle pathways to downtown Boston. The bike path on the MBTA shoreline is an important connector that would bring together Charlestown with the Northern Strand Community Path that stretches out to Nahant.
“The Draw Seven Path Extension Project will connect DCR’s Mystic River Reservation via Draw 7 Park in Somerville to Alford Street in Boston along the MBTA bus yard property in Somerville and Charlestown,” read information from the DCR. “Completion of the $1.3 million DCR funded multiuse path is expected to be completed this fall with construction of the path including site features, such as bio-engineered stabilization measures along the entire length of the path, wooden guardrails, and anti-climb security fence to protect the public, along with plantings and benches accompanying the decorative path entrance with a DCR Mystic River Reservation granite pillar.”
Charlestown resident Dan Jaffe said he loved the design of the extension, but wonders how the City and state will solve the connection problems when the path gets to Sullivan Square.
“A surface cross-over is just not safe,” he said. “A pedestrian bridge across would be the other possibility, but the elevation and the needed ramp/stairs would be difficult given the space limitations. That only leaves one option, going under, and having a fully sealed submarine tunnel, but that’s going to be expensive. If, and that’s a big if, we need the Feds to come through with funding for climate readiness, then we should be able to get it added in.”
The crux of the project, however, was to shore up the seawall and save the Charlestown Bus Yard from flooding and erosion issues. For that, the MBTA had secured a federal resiliency grant in 2016 to repair the revetment and seawall along the Mystic River frontage.
“It is worth pointing out that without this project, the future of the T’s Charlestown bus maintenance and storage facility was in doubt,” said a spokesman from the MBTA. “The cost of replacing the facility would exceed $600 million, and that’s a conservative estimate.”
Some of the project challenges have included:
•Replacement of the existing failing steel pile seawall in close proximity to two large electric lines;
•Permitting and coordination among several agencies at the local, state and federal levels, and;
•Keeping the bus facility operational during construction.