Sunday, June 16, 2024

Workers remove the last bit of construction fencing from Somerville’s Community Path Extension at 7 a.m. Saturday. (Photo: City of Somerville via Twitter)

After months of delays, a multi-use Green Line Extension Community Path branch from central Somerville to East Cambridge opens Saturday, the MBTA said Friday.

A celebration of the opening was planned for 10 a.m. at 112 Central St., at Somerville Junction Park, said officials including Somerville City Council president Ben Ewen-Campen and state Rep. Mike Connolly.

Somerville councilor Jake Wilson launched a website in April reflecting frustration about the path and lobbying gently for work to advance – isthecommunitypathextensionopen.com – and on Friday was finally able to switch the site’s “no” to news of the opening.

 “Perhaps the best website update I’ve ever made,” Wilson said.

Somerville city councilor Jake Wilson runs isthecommunitypathextensionopen.com – which on Friday changed its answer.

The path runs parallel to the green line extension’s Medford branch, with access to new stations on the line in Somerville at Magoun Square, Gilman Square, East Somerville and in Cambridge at Lechmere Station. By connecting with the 10-mile Minuteman Trail built in 1991 from the MBTA’s Alewife Station in Cambridge to Bedford Depot, it can bring users as far as that woodsy town beyond Lexington, as well as into Downtown Boston. It also makes connections to the 26 miles of bike paths along the Charles River, the MBTA said.

It’s a dramatic expansion of a Somerville Community Path opened in 1985 that ran approximately 1.3 miles from Massachusetts Avenue to Lowell Street via Davis Square in the former Fitchburg Cutoff rail bed. 

It is, however, around six months late in opening as the state transit agency saw to “final construction punch-list items” that included installing fencing and guardrails, electrical equipment for lighting and emergency call boxes and adjusting pavement grade for drainage. In May, as a third opening date was missed, residents, transit advocates and local and state officials complained about a lack of communication from the state around problems and the timeline for resolving them.

They were happier Friday upon hearing the news of the path’s opening, even if some of that joy was tempered by weariness.

“I am grateful to the many incredible, determined Somerville residents, activists, elected officials and staff who labored to make this dream a reality,” Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne said. “The community path is of course a critical part of the region’s transportation system, but in Somerville, it’s also a unique part of our social fabric and the open space network we envisioned for all to enjoy and use.”

“We have waited a very long time for this news,” state Sen. Pat Jehlen said online.

As of Saturday, the multi-use path and its connections will serve approximately 900,000 people from five communities, the MBTA said: Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Boston, Lexington and Bedford.


This post was updated June 10, 2023, to replace a photo.