On: October 16, 2017

After several years of dreaming and informal conversation, momentum is finally gathering to transform the MBTA tunnel cap into a linear park dubbed the DotGreenway.

What’s in the works?

For a few years now, folks at Greater Ashmont Main Street have been dreaming of transforming Dorchester’s Red Line tunnel cap into a linear park that would connect various parts of the business district for pedestrians and cyclists. The vision is part of the Main Street district’s commitment to a transit-oriented, Complete Streets locale that benefits a culturally diverse population. Independently, TLee Development, RODE Architects, & OJB Design had arrived at a similar vision for the underutilized tunnel cap and had begun work toward the creation of the DotGreenway. When mutual friends brought the groups together, they were excited to realize their shared dream and join forces to work towards making the DotGreenway a reality. With an initial concept prepared by OJB and RODE architects, the DotGreenway vision was formally unveiled at Greater Ashmont Main Street’s May 2017 Annual Meeting. The proposed DotGreenway would complement and expand the stretch of tunnel cap near Shawmut to create a single linear park stretching from Talbot Avenue to Park Street. The planning group has been visiting and presenting at abutting civic associations since then, and the initial ten week community input period was launched at the September 15 Dorchester Bike & Brew.  The MBTA has seen the proposal and offered tentative support, pending final design and construction document review. The project is a listed part of the City’s 2013 Boston Bike Network 30 year Plan and a commitment to bike and pedestrian pathway improvements in Boston’s Main Street districts is part of the larger Imagine Boston 2030 Plan.

The goals of the project are to:

  1. Connect people to people
  2. Connect people to mass transit
  3. Connect people to local goods and services
  4. Provide a safe recreation space for walkers and cyclists
  5. Express the historic and distinctive qualities of Dorchester
  6. Provide opportunities for community engagement and active programming

What’s there now?

At present, the tunnel cap has been paved as a pedestrian walkway outside the Shawmut station from Centre Street to Melville Avenue as part of the renovation of the Shawmut station by the MBTA. A devoted group of Melville Park area residents have maintained plant garden beds in that area as well for almost two decades, as part of the Shawmut Gardens project. The remainder of the tunnel cap is fenced off from public access.

What’s happening next?

The DotGreenway team is working with civic organizations, city departments, and partners to gather feedback and ideas about the proposal, significantly in partnership with CoUrbanize. The hope is to involve as many voices as possible in the planning process, including direct outreach to all residents of abutting streets. This initial input period is underway and will run for a full ten weeks, until the end of November. After it concludes, the DotGreenway team will seek to incorporate feedback to refine the proposal, looking to bring a more detailed plan to community workshops and for further survey input in the spring. Simultaneously, the team will seek to formalize the DotGreenway organization and begin raising necessary grant, corporate, governmental, and private funds for the work itself.

The team would love to hear your thoughts on this proposed project! You can review the full visioning presentation here. Please share your input at courb.co/dgreenway, where you can also see project updates and find a tentative timeline of next steps.  If you are interested becoming directly involved in the planning effort, please contact us at info@greaterashmont.org.