Neponset River Greenway

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Neponset River Greenway Council

Neponset History

Neponset Photos

Neponset River Greenway Map

Neponset River Masterplan

Crossing Granite Avenue

The Neponset River forms Boston's southern border with Quincy and Milton. In addition to the mills left from its history as an industrial center, many scenic vistas remain.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) MassParks owns much of the shoreline as the Neponset River Reservation. This includes an abandoned railway line which became the ISTEA-funded first segment of the Neponset Trail, a rail-trail from the mouth of the estuary at Tenean Beach in the Port Norfolk neighborhood of Dorchester, through the Pope John Paul II Park, along a salt marsh, then parallelling the "High Speed Line" trolley toward Mattapan as far as Central Ave. in Milton, part of the Lower Neponset River Masterplan.

Pope John Paul II Park, next to the Southeast Expressway on the estuary of the river, which contains 1/4-mile of the Trail, opened on May 1, 2001. The rest of Phase I of the trail, downstream to Port Norfolk and upstream to Central Ave. in Milton, had to be cleared of contaminated soil which was found along much of the railroad right of way. Construction went out to bid in April 2001, bids were received by May 2, and construction started in September 2001. By January 2002, the trail was paved except for a stretch along the salt marsh. Paving of that segment, with a permeable pavement resembling crushed stone, was completed during the second week of October 2002. The last piece of this segment, a traffic light where the trail crosses Granite Ave., was completed by the fall of 2006. By 2015, the permeable pavement turned out not to be, and was replaced by asphalt, which actually drains pretty well.

On Earth Day 2008, Governor Patrick announced that construction would soon begin on the "Neponset River Esplanade," from Mattapan Square to Paul's Bridge, the plan for which had been completed in June of 2006. A section of this Esplanade from the Martini Shell to Mattapan between the Truman Parkway and the Neponset River was started in the fall of 2009 and opened in 2012 (see photos). An extension along the river all the way to the Neponset Valley Parkway in Readville at the southern edge of Boston was completed in 2015 by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and this whole section was opened cermoniously in August 2015.
Here is the latest plan, as of June 15, 2006 as a 1,470,966-byte PDF file.

Further northward extensions along Tenean Beach and through Port Norfolk Park were completed in 2010 and 2015, respectively.

The next future extension along the harbor almost to Columbia Point, where the Neponset estuary becomes Boston Harbor, has been split into three parts. The next one likely to be built will run from Victory Road in Dorchester to Morrissey Boulevard half on an easement between the colorful gas tank and the Southeast Expressway. It was designed and funding came through in the fall of 2001, but post-9/11 security concerns about the trail being too close to a gas transmission facility cancelled the project for 15 years, but as of December 2016, the DCR has an easement from National Grid, which now owns the facility, construction plans ready, and most of the permits in place. Construction is proposed for fiscal year 2018.

The next section north, from the Morrissey Blvd. drawbridge to Columbia Point, is to be built as part of the fast-tracked reconstruction of the boulevard and should, like the new roadway, be built above high tide.

The penultimate stretch from Tenean Beach to Victory Road is on Massachusetts Department of Transportation property adjoining the Southeast Expressway and requires that agency to increase its support for bicycle facilities with more action than it has been predisposed to give in the past.

And the final piece of the trail, the one that actually connects it to the Blue Hills State Reservation, will parallel the Neponset Valley Parkway and the Neponset River to Paul's Bridge, at the border between Boston and Milton and the beginning of the Fowl Meadow section of the Reservation. It has not even been routed or designed yet despite the fervent advocacy of this writer, but the Neponset River Greenway Council is working on it.

Possible future connections include going northward to Boston's Seaport District along First St. in South Boston on a cycle track being built by Massport and not-yet-existent cycle tracks along Summer St., Northern Ave., and Congress St. to the Fort Point Channel section of the South Bay Harborpath and to the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

A path along the Mother Brook, a major tributary of the Neponset in Dedham and Hyde Park, has been studied, but is not going to happen soon. Dedham can also be reached via a potential cycle track along the Neponset Valley Parkway and the proposed Dedham Greenway. The Trail could also continue up the Neponset along the marsh on the Boston side of the river, under Route 128/I-95 to Westwood and Norwood.

The Neponset River Watershed includes all or portions of the communities of Boston, Canton, Dedham, Dover, Foxboro, Medfield, Milton, Norwood, Quincy, Randolph, Sharon, Stoughton, Walpole, and Westwood.

The Boston Natural Areas Network (formerly the Boston Natural Areas Fund) and The Trust for Public Land had sequential 4-year and 3-year grants to develop community support and a vision for a greenway in support of the MDC's (and now DCR's) ongoing projects. The Neponset River Greenway Council, which spun off on its own after BNAN was taken over by The Trustees, continues to work to build public support for a greenway from the mouth of the river in Dorchester, through Mattapan and Milton to Readville, Boston's southernmost neighborhood, and beyond.


Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR):
Project Manager: Stella Lensing (email)
Massachusetts State Police:
Milton Barracks (Trail west of Lower Mills bridge): (617)698-5840
South Boston Barracks (Trail east of Lower Mills bridge): (617)740-7710
From a cell phone anywhere on the trail: *SP
Neponset River Watershed Association (617)575-0354 (email)
written by Neponset River Greenway Council Chair Jessica Mink (email)

Last updated November 30, 2016