Quequechan River Regional Bike Path
The City of Fall River has been working to develop a Pedestrian/Bike Path to be used for recreation and transportation purposes. After reviewing numerous alternatives, it was determined that the following route would best meet the needs of residents of Fall River and surrounding communities. However, there has been talk of improving the Braga Bridge to include the extension of the regional bike path which connects to Somerset, Swansea and beyond. We will keep you informed as the story unfolds. Upon completion of all phases, the path will link many of Fall River's most beautiful areas including Bicentennial Park, Heritage State Park and Britland Park. The path will traverse along scenic Watuppa Pond and the Quequechan and Taunton Rivers.
The Quequechan River Regional Bike Path is a project composed of three phases. Each phase of the project will connect to create a bike way that allows transportation across the city and into other communities. The path will include resurfacing, signing, pavement marking, boardwalks and the conversion of the Penn Central Railroad to accomodate bicycle and pedestrian travel. This path will provide a link from Somerset to Westport for a total length of 6.93 miles, including nearly 3 miles of Class I Bicycle Paths. Connections to bike paths in adjoining towns will be made as those communities construct facilities.
Phase 1 of the path would begin in Britland Park and continue in an easterly direction along the abandoned rail lines to the property owned by Interstate Trucking. At this point the trail will traverse along the Quequechan River and the east boundary of the property by way of an easemnet to Brayton Avenue. The trail will then continue easterly along the tracks at the South Watuppa Pond to Route 6 in Westport. The Town of Westport and the City of Fall River intend to connect their separate projects to create a regional bicycle and pedestrian facility.
The second segment of the path would connect Heritage State Park to Bicentennial Park along the City's waterfront. This would provide approximately one mile of public access along the Taunton River by extending the City's existing boardwalk.
The third and final segment will link Phases I and II. This part of the path would extend entirely over existing City streets between the waterfront and Britland Park. Each street would be identified as a bike way with signs and pavement markings.
For many years residents have needed a safe area to walk, ride, and in-line skate. Unfortunately, there no extensive areas dedicated to this use at this time. The Quequechan River Regional Bike Path will satisfy this need and provide many recreational benefits for young and old alike. Furthermore, the community will gain an alternative to automobile transportation a source of air pollution.
The proposed location of the path runs through the center of the most heavily populated areas of the City. Therfore, the facility will be easily accessible to residents and businesses. Of significance is the path's proximity to public transit. When completed, the project will allow countless opportunities for intermodal transportation due to its proximity to the city bus terminal and proposed commuter rail station. The path will also provide an important link between City neighborhoods. Interstate 195 divides the City in half, providing only a limited number of crossings. The proposed path will provide two additional crossings under Route 195. These crossings will allow pedestrians and bikers to travel between the north and south sections of the City in a safe and convenient manner.
In addition to the transportation benefits of the path, Phase I of the construction will accomplish two very important goals. The first goal would be to provide access to the Quequechan River and the South Watuppa Pond. More than 4,600 feet of the path abuts or runs through the Quequechan River and 5,400 feet runs along the South Watuppa Pond. The proposed path will allow users to access, view and appreciate these unique resources. At present, public access to these areas is severely limited. The second goal would be beautification of the abandoned rail line. The rail line runs parallel to and is visible from Interstate Route 195, the main transportation corridor within the City limits. The City has been very active in improving landscaping points of access and areas visible from its highways. Beautification and improvement of the rail corridor would provide a greenbelt through the center of the City and significantly improve an area viewed by thousands of motorists each day.
The path represents a vital link within a regional system of proposed paths. Furthermore, this project will benefit the transportation system by resurrecting and preserving an abandoned rail corridor while creating an alternative means of transportation. Over a period of several years, the abandoned rail corridor has become a dumping ground and an eye sore. Construction of the proposed project will most certainly clean up and beautify this area while discouraging future dumping.
This project will have a positive impact on Britland Park where the path begins. This area has been underutilized by city residents for many years. However, we anticipate use of the park facilities will increase as a result of the bikeway project.
The City will provide free parking spaces at Britland Park for those wishing to use the path. Handicap accessibility will be incorporated into the project and will comply with all A.D.A. requirements and the Rules of the Architectural Access Board.
Fall River's Police Chief, has agreed to utilize his department's Bicycle unit to patrol the trail on a regular basis, the police station being conveniently situated at Britland Park. When Phases I and II of the project are connected, the police departmnent will utilize the facility to better patrol the City with their Bicycle Unit.
The path will be in close proximity to retail stores, restaurants and Fall River's Factory Outlet District. Merchants in the district are excited about the proposed path and believe it will have a positive impact on their businesses. Furthermore, some merchants have indicated their desire to provide free parking for anyone wishing to utilize the path.
A Final Word
We are hopeful that, despite the roadblocks that have cropped up to hinder this project, the path will become reality in the near future. The advantages of creating this path, the enthusiasm for, both linking to other communities' bike paths and having inner-city recreation alternatives will eventually outweigh any negative thinking or procrastination.