DCR completes sidewalk study

After almost three years in development, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), along with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and consultants Pressley Associates, presented a sweeping rehabilitation and expansion plan for the Emerald Necklace’s sidewalks, crossings and paths at a community meeting held at Wheelock College on June 24.

In Mission Hill and the LMA, the project area includes the Riverway, which borders the Muddy River; and Park Drive, which borders the Museum of Fine Arts and most of the colleges of the Fenway.

The plan does not call for any immediate action, but instead creates guidelines for future projects, which would lead to improvements being made piecemeal, as budget and resources allow.

The guidelines would eventually replace over 10 miles of sidewalks and paths of varying widths, materials, conditions and accessibility with sidewalks and bike paths of standards materials and widths, where possible. The new paths and sidewalks would also include wider and better-marked pedestrian and bicycle crossings at intersections, better lighting and other amenities.

Shared-use pedestrian and bicycle paths, for example, would be at least 6 feet wide, with a goal of 12 feet wide where possible. The latest accessibility standards would be applied throughout.

The goal of the guidelines is to “accommodate all users, particularly cyclists and pedestrians, while respecting the historic nature of the parks,” Joseph Orfant, chief of bureau of planning and resource protection at DCR, said.

“Hats off to DCR and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy for tackling this,” Arborway resident Sarah Freeman said at the meeting. “It’s an idea which time has come.”

The meeting’s presentation is available at bit.ly/DCRsidewalkplan2013.

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