Blackstone River Greenway

The Blackstone River Greenway (formerly Bikeway) is a partially completed 48-mile (77 km) paved rail trail defining the course of the East Coast Greenway through the Blackstone Valley from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island.

Bikeway and park sign
The Blackstone River Greenway in October 2006, approximately one mile south of the Martin Street Bridge, Lincoln, Rhode Island

As of 2016, approximately 11.5 miles (18.5 km) of the trail has been completed in Rhode Island, connecting the communities of Woonsocket, Lincoln, Cumberland, and Manville. Some 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of completed trail in Massachusetts connect Worcester and Millbury, as well as 3.7 miles of trail connecting Uxbridge and Blackstone.

The path roughly parallels the right-of-way of the active Providence & Worcester Railroad and its predecessor, the Blackstone Canal, running alongside the Blackstone River. In some places, the bike path follows the old canal towpath, with the long-abandoned canal running along one side and the river on the other. Only a short portion near Pratt Dam (a.k.a. Lonsdale Dam, connecting Lincoln, Rhode Island and Cumberland, Rhode Island) runs on abandoned railroad right-of-way.[1]

Once finished, the greenway will be linked to the East Bay Bike Path, for an additional 14.5 miles (23.3 km) of trail to Bristol, Rhode Island. The Blackstone River Greenway is also a designated section of the East Coast Greenway, the 3,000-mile trail system connecting cities from Maine to Florida.

HistoryEdit

In 1985, the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (known after 1999 as the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor) was designated by the United States Congress, following the path of the Blackstone River from Providence to Worcester.

Rhode Island

In 1997, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Department of Transportation began work on the first Rhode Island segment, from Lincoln to Ashton.[2] This segment was completed in 1998. A second Rhode Island segment was completed in 2002, from Ashton to Manville.[3] In August 2007, a bridge reconstruction project at Martin Street in Lincoln was completed, ending a three-year bike path closure. The new bridge incorporated a major safety improvement with the path passing underneath Martin Street instead of meeting it at grade.[4] In November 2007, a 2-mile (3.2 km) extension from Manville to the Woonsocket Water Treatment Plant was opened. A 1-mile (1.6 km) segment from Lonsdale to Valley Falls, which includes more than 500 feet (150 m) of boardwalk over part of the Lonsdale Marsh, opened in 2008. A segment through the River's Edge Recreational Complex in Woonsocket was completed in 2008, and that segment was linked to the previously-completed portions to the south later that year. In 2011, an 8.5 miles (13.7 km) segment of on-road bicycle lanes opened connecting the Blackstone River Greenway with the East Bay Bike Path, starting in Providence. In 2013, sharrows were painted through Woonsocket from the Massachusetts border to the River's Edge Recreational Complex.[5]

In early Summer 2017, a new 0.6 miles (0.97 km) section of path was completed along the Seekonk River in Providence, stretching from Gano Street to Pitman Street, which was extended by a further 0.2 miles (0.32 km) in 2020. A $4.5 million section of path in Woonsocket known as Segment 8C was completed in 2019, consisting of 0.6 miles (0.97 km) of path from the Massachusetts border to Cold Spring Park in Woonsocket including a 182-foot truss bridge over the Blackstone River.[6] Segment 8B1, a further 0.6 miles (0.97 km) of path along Truman Drive in Woonsocket, was opened in 2020. As of 2021 the total Rhode Island portion of the greenway is 12 miles (19 km) long, 10 miles (16 km) of which make up the longest contiguous segment. Additional projects are under design to extend the path further through Woonsocket, connecting existing segments, as well as through the cities of Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls.

Massachusetts

In 1996, a study undertaken by the Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD) and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (known at the time as the Department of Environmental Management) produced a plan for seven segments of trail linking Worcester with Blackstone, Massachusetts and the Rhode Island border.

  1. Blackstone to Millville (2.92 miles)
  2. Millville to Uxbridge (3.30 miles)
  3. Uxbridge to Northbridge (9.09 miles)
  4. Northbridge to Grafton (1.39 miles)
  5. Grafton to Millbury via Sutton (6.02 miles)
  6. Millbury to Worcester (4+ miles)
  7. Worcester (2.61 miles)

Construction was delayed due to a lack of state funds, a shortfall attributed to the over-budget "Big Dig" highway tunnel project in Boston.[7] In 2005, as part of the Massachusetts Turnpike-Route 146 interchange project, the first 2.5-mile (4.0 km) segment, from Worcester to Millbury, was opened to the public.

In 2010, an agreement was reached between MassDOT and DCR for DCR to take over the management of the design and environmental permitting of Sections 1 through 5 of the Greenway, including preparation of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Section 6 was previously constructed by MassDOT, and Section 7 will be designed by the City of Worcester, and constructed by MassDOT.

In 2013, five bridges in Blackstone that run concurrently with the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) were repaired and repainted. These are the two Factory Pond Bridges, the northern Canal Street Bridge, a Blackstone River Bridge, and the St. Paul Street Bridge. By September 2014, these bridges received new ipe wood decks and safety railings. In 2014, new bridges were also constructed over Kane Court and Main Street, and a tunnel was built under Church Street, all in the town of Blackstone. The entire 3.7-mile path was finally completed in December 2016.[8] Restoration work on the Blackstone Viaduct, located adjacent to the southern terminus of this path, began in 2019. When completed, this project will add approximately 0.5 miles of bike path extending to the Rhode Island border, where it will connect with an existing segment of path in Woonsocket.[9]

All of the trail between the missing Blackstone River and Rte. 122 bridge in Blackstone and Rte. 146A in Uxbridge is part of both the SNETT and the Blackstone River Greenway.

CrossingsEdit

State County Town Crossing Notes
Massachusetts Worcester Worcester McKeon Road Current Masschusettes terminus
Blackstone River Road Underpass
   Route 146 / Route 122A Freeway underpass (twice in a row)
Millbury   US 20 Underpass
  Route 146 exit 10 ramps Underpass
  I-90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) Underpass
  Route 122A Underpass/overlap
  Route 146 Overpass
  Route 146 exit 9 ramp
  Route 122A Path terminus
Break in Trail
Uxbridge Adams Street Path terminus
Millville Central Street
Blackstone River River crossing
Blackstone   Route 122 Underpass
Blackstone River River crossing (Twice in a row)
Church Street Underpass
  Route 122 Overpass
Canal Street Overpass
Blackstone River River crossing
St Paul Street Overpass, Current Massachusetts Terminus
Break in trail
Rhode Island Providence North Smithfield Massachusetts Border Current Rhode Island terminus
North Smithfield-Woonsocket Blackstone River River crossing
Woonsocket Singleton St
Break in Trail
River Street Path terminus
Main Street
Truman Drive
Court Street Underpass
Truman Drive Path terminus
Break in Trail
Rec Drive Twice in a row; Path terminus
Private Drive
Lincoln   Route 99 Freeway underpass
Main Street Underpass
School Street
LincolnCumberland Blackstone River River crossing
Cumberland Providence and Worcester Railroad Railroad crossing
  I-295 Freeway underpass
  Route 116 Underpass
Front Street
LincolnCumberland Blackstone River River crossing
Lincoln Martin Street Underpass
LincolnCumberland Blackstone River River crossing
Cumberland   Route 122 Overlap
LincolnCumberland Blackstone River River crossing
Lincoln   Route 123 overlap
LincolnCumberland Blackstone River River crossing
Cumberland Jones Street Path terminus
Break in Trail
Providence Pitman Street Path terminus
  I-195 exit 1D ramp
India Street Rhode Island terminus

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Blackstone River Greenway History". TrailLink. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  2. ^ "DEM announces construction of Blackstone River bike path to begin in fall" (Press release). Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. July 2, 1997. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  3. ^ "DEM, DOT, Governor Almond to cut ribbon on new segment of the Blackstone Valley Bikeway" (Press release). Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. June 6, 2002. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  4. ^ "Berkeley and Martin St. Bridges". Gordon R. Archibald, Inc. Archived from the original on January 19, 2016. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  5. ^ Olivo, Russ (July 17, 2013). "Markings guide cyclists through city streets". Woonsocket Call. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  6. ^ Fitzgerald, Joseph. "PressReader.com - Digital Newspaper & Magazine Subscriptions". www.pressreader.com. Woonsocket Call. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  7. ^ Tolman, Lynne (May 16, 1999). "Wheels turning slowly for Blackstone River Bikeway". Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  8. ^ Seoane, Sandy (11 January 2017). "New section of greenway open, ready for winter recreation". The Valley Breeze. Breeze Publications. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  9. ^ Clem, Lauren (10 April 2019). "Restoring a giant". The Valley Breeze. Retrieved 23 August 2021.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 42°01′37″N 71°36′16″W / 42.026904°N 71.604326°W / 42.026904; -71.604326