After looking at three options, one was eliminated, and two were moved forward with one chosen as the recommended route.
The recommended route would be to continue the path along Arsenal Street, which currently goes along the north side of the street from School Street to Irving Street. It would continue west to Taylor Street and then go along Taylor, cross Mt. Auburn Street and then go along Baptist Walk, through the municipal parking lots in Watertown Square to link with the path near the Watertown Library. The cost estimate for the project is $1.3 million, according to VHB, the project designer.
The other option being considered would move the path to the former railroad right of way, which would require reconstructing the Patten Street Bridge and purchasing land or taking it by eminent domain. The path would come out near the intersection of Taylor and Mt. Auburn streets.
The third option that was eliminated was moving the path to North Beacon Street Option. That would have required bicyclists traveling on the road with traffic on Irving Street, and an on-road two lane bike path along North Beacon.
At last week’s Council meeting, Councilor Lisa Feltner said she prefers the option along the former railroad right of way.
“The safest, most direct way is to build the Community Path is off road,” Feltner said.
During the joint meeting of the Economic Development and Planning and Public Works Committees, Feltner said she was disappointed that the off-road option was not fully vetted, and said she would to hear cost estimates for purchasing land or taking it by eminent domain and reconstructing the Patten Street Bridge.
She added that if the Arsenal Street option is chosen, it will require changes to the roadway, and she recommends communicating with those that will be impacted. The two-lane bike and pedestrian path would be about 10 feet wide, and would require widening the sidewalk by three feet. It would cross driveways and raised crosswalks would be installed on Arsenal Street.
In the Arsenal Street option, Taylor Street would be reconfigured to have a two way bike lane on the east side and a one way, eleven foot travel lane on the west side, according to the subcommittee report. There would be no sidewalks on either side of the road.
The Council voted 7-1 to endorse moving ahead with the preferred Arsenal Street option for the Community Path, but also ask the Department of Community Development & Planning to look at future options to create an off-road solution. Councilor Angeline Kounelis voted against the motion.