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Mayor Walsh breaks ground on improvements to connect Boston's historical sites

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today broke ground on "Connect Historic Boston," which will enhance walking, biking and public transit to historic sites and other destinations in downtown Boston. This project will reconstruct four areas of Boston to create safe, attractive and easy to navigate pedestrian and bicycle connections. The Mayor was joined by Peter M. Rogoff, Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pamela Stephenson, Administrator of the Massachusetts Division of the Federal Highway Administration and Mary Beth Mello, Regional Administrator for the Federal Transit Authority.

"I am excited to break ground on 'Connect Historic Boston,' which will serve as a vital link to the historic sites in downtown and Charlestown," said Mayor Walsh. "Boston is a city full of history, and this new project will allow both visitors and residents to experience how Boston paved the way for America."  

"It's great to see construction on 'Connect Historic Boston' begin with the support of federal funding," said Senator Elizabeth Warren. "These investments in Boston's infrastructure will help improve access to historic sites, make it easier for people to get around the city, and support the local economy."

"Connecting these National Park Service sites will connect residents and visitors to Boston's rich and storied history," said Senator Edward J. Markey. "Four centuries of American history will now be linked by these 21st century improvements so all can see and appreciate how Boston helped shape our nation. I applaud the Mayor's office and all the local, state and federal partners who helped secure this funding and bring the Connect Historic Boston project to life." 

"The City of Boston is home to a wealth of landmark destinations that showcase the city's prominent role in our nation's history," said Congressman Michael Capuano. "The 'Connect Historic Boston' trail will make it easier to access some of that history, linking a number of National Park Service sites and other locations through enhanced pedestrian and bike paths."

"Every Boston neighborhood has sites that speak to the city's remarkable role in the birth of our nation," said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch. "By improving pedestrian access to our city's landmarks, Mayor Walsh and 'Connect Historic Boston's' initiative will help residents and tourists take advantage of the historic landscape of Boston."

 Today's groundbreaking took place in the Blackstone Block of Boston- the oldest street network in the country and a direct link to National Park Service at Faneuil Hall. Construction in the Blackstone Block will include: 

  • Union Street will be reconstructed at a tabled street creating outdoor seating along the Freedom Trail. 
  • The Trail itself, within this area, will be reconstructed and will be ADA compliant.
  • Paving stones will be reset on the old street network and the original Edison Lighting Fixtures will be reconditioned.
  • Curley Park will be reconfigured to be a gathering spot and meeting place with informational signage.
  • The project will create a connecting link between Haymarket Station and Faneuil Hall.

Constitution Road will also be improved to provide safe pedestrian and bicycle paths while promoting car-free visitation from neighboring communities and transit hubs to the Charlestown Navy Yard. In addition, pedestrian enhancements will be made at the intersection of Constitution Road and Chelsea Street to create a safer connection to MBTA bus routes and allow the continuation of the Freedom Trail to the Bunker Hill Monument.

Joy Street in Beacon Hill will also be reconstructed as a pedestrian friendly street from Cambridge Street to the Abel Smith School, which is an African American National Historic Site. 

Other work includes construction on Staniford Street, starting at the intersection of Cambridge Street, and continuing onto Causeway and Commercial Streets. This work, known as the "Connect Historic Boston Bike Trail," will provide a family-friendly bicycle loop around downtown.  

The project will be funded by the City of Boston, the Boston Redevelopment Authority and a U.S. Department of Transportation Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. "Connect Historic Boston" is expected to be completed by December 2017. The total construction cost is approximately $23.7 million.  

In 2014 the city's Public Works and Transportation Departments worked together to undertake an 8-month design and permitting process that included nearly 40 public meetings to inform and seek input for the final design. In April 2015 construction for the bike trail began on Staniford Street and this summer work crews will extend their efforts to include the reconstruction of Causeway Street. 

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