Friday, May 27, 2005
MAPC updating regional bicycle and pedestrian plan
Work has already begun on an update of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council's (MAPC) 1997 Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. Nearly 40 trim and fit-looking area residents filled the Clark room at Town Hall on May 12 to hear MAPC Chief Planner Barbara Lucas discuss the revision and, as a second part of the announced program, the Governor's proposed Transportation Plan.
Both the Highway Design Manual and the Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plans are also being updated at this time. Changes in land use, demographics and funding have impacted the existing eight-year-old plan.
Current bike paths
On-road paths are characteristic of urban areas. New adaptations such as a shared lane, a wide curb lane, useable shoulder and dedicated bike lane, with its own designatory icon, have emerged as the need for bicycle access to the existing transportation system has increased. T-accessible paths and bike racks allow greater commuter use.
Off-road paths in the suburbs take advantage of old railroad right of ways and can pass through many towns.
Mind-boggling, staggering cost
The cost of construction is mind-boggling, if not downright staggering. Lucas cites an estimate of approximately $1 million per mile that is commensurate with the figure for highway construction. Chapter 90 funds can cover bike paths and clean air funds have been applied where biking is primarily commuter driven. Volunteer efforts are responsible for planning, development and funding of many bike trails.
The Bruce Freeman Trail
Nowhere has volunteer effort been more consistent and muscled than on the Bruce Freeman Trail. Engineering and permitting have been completed for the northernmost 7.5 miles from Lowell, through Chelmsford and into Westford. Construction, planned for 2005, has been impeded by the need to excavate and remove hazardous materials in the path which was the old New Haven Railroad's Framingham and Lowell line, which opened in 1871. The 20.2 mile section from Lowell to Sudbury is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
More information about bike paths is available at www.mapc.org/transportation/transportation_alternatives.html. Bike_Plan@mapc.org is the address for on-line comments.
© 2005 The