Next Phase of North Central Pathway Pushes Ahead

Next Phase of North Central Pathway Pushes Ahead

Next Phase of North Central Pathway Pushes Ahead

MONTROSE — By the end of next summer, the portion of the proposed 16-mile bike trail connecting the town to Montrose will be completed — according to Cindy Boucher, the co-chair for the North Central Pathway. “It’s so rewarding to see it get built,” said Ms. Boucher. “It’s a nice thing for the community to have.”

The Department of Transportation started advertising for construction bids on the 2.3 mile segment stretching from Glen Allen to North Ashburnham roads. Officials said the bidding process will close in October, while construction will begin next winter. Work on the North Central Pathway has been in progress since 1995, according to Ms. Boucher. The 2.3 mile portion that is set to be constructed next year is phase five of eight planned phases. “It’s been sort of built piecemeal,” said Ms. Boucher.

Phase six — a half mile stretch in Gardner — will create 13 miles of continuous path and connect the two communities. If all goes as planned, phase six will be completed in 2016, Ms. Boucher said. The idea behind the trail was to connect Gardner and Winchendon’s downtowns — providing both recreation and an alternate route of transportation. She believes the project has the capability to spur economic development in the area, as it increases traffic downtown and could become a tourist attraction. “People are using it tremendously,” she said.

The committee overseeing the project has funded it with both state money and grants, according to Ms. Boucher. However, funding has run out for the last three miles of the project, which comprise phases seven and eight. She said the committee will look into how to fund and build the final stages in the near future, although it is currently focused on the segments it has money for.