Scoping out next turns for Neponset trail

One of the finest new amenities of the last decade in Dorchester is the Neponset Greenway, the 2.5 mile-trail that tracks the river along a corridor that was once used for a commercial railway. In the 1990s, state planners and open space advocates pushed forward the conversion of the old railway and found federal money to complete the project.

One need only take a brief stroll or bike ride along the Greenway to know that the outcome has been an unmitigated success. The trail has transformed what was once a forlorn, weed-infested, and decidedly sketchy stretch of no-man’s land into a destination for joggers, bicyclists, dog-walkers, and big wheels. Despite some instances of particularly shameful graffiti – one vandal targeted a beautiful mural two summers ago – the trail has been relatively problem free. Intervals of police patrols are augmented by the constant watch of the many people who use the trail — a constant stream in warm weather.

The state is now preparing to extend this spectacular path farther up river to make a connection with another popular path next to the Neponset Valley Parkway in Hyde Park. Once the connection is complete, there will be about seven miles of trail along the Neponset. The key unresolved question now is one that has slowed the trail’s progress for several years: On which side of the river should the trail run westward from Lower Mills?

State planners outlined several alternatives at a meeting at the Foley Building on River Street in early June. This month, those of us with an interest in seeing this amenity more fully realized can take advantage of two tours organized by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The walking tours – the first is today (July 22) – will take participants along the proposed paths on both the Milton and Boston sides of the Neponset. They present an excellent opportunity for current and future trail users to get a first-hand look at the possible route to Mattapan Square and beyond.

The Reporter will be at each tour to report on the experience. But we encourage our neighbors to come out personally and form their own impressions on what route makes the most sense. We urge everyone to then let the state agency in charge of the trail’s extension know what you think. The DCR has extended the public comment period until August 14 to solicit more input. Public comments can be sent to DCR by e-mail at or by phone at 617-626-4974.

Today’s tour will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Foley Senior Residences on River Street. The second tour, set for next Monday (July 26), will also start at 6:30 p.m. from the Riverway Plaza, 90 River St. Folks should meet in the Rite Aid parking lot. Hope to see you there!

– Bill Forry

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