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Montachusett Regional Planning Commission

Existing facilities

There is a designated bicycle path in Fitchburg. Additionally, the Planning Commission has designated part of Route 31, with wide shoulders, as a bicycle route, and has designated others for improvement.

Proposed projects

The following suggestions for facilities in the Montachusett region have been submitted to the bicycle facilities inventory.

Rail Trail proposals

Several major rail-trail proposals were submitted.

Burnshirt River Bikepath

This would run between Winchendon and Hubbardston, continuing into town of Barre, which is in the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission region. The northern end would connect to an existing rail trail in Mason, NH. The right of way is owned by the DEM as far north as Templeton.

Cheshire Branch Bikepath/Crystal Lake Bikepath

This would run from the center of Gardner north to the New Hampshire border.

Greenville Branch Bikepath/Squannacook River Greenway

This would run from Shirley to Townsend and north to the New Hampshire border. It is a proposal of the Nashua River Watershed Association.

Hollis Branch Bikepath/Ayer to Dunstable

This would run north from the center of Ayer to the New Hampshire border. This right of way is owned by the DEM. A preliminary design study is in preparation.

Other bikeway projects

Fitchburg to Leominster Bikeway/Nashua River Greenway

The core of this proposal is a short bikeway in Fitchburg and Leominster, including some segments on road. It potentially could extend south as far as Clinton. A few other segments of bikeways are planned for Fitchburg, to link other routes.

Gardner Heritage State Park Bikeway

This is a proposal for a bicycle route through parklands in Gardner, including on-road and path segments.

Fort Devens bikeways

As part of the proposed redevelopment of Fort Devens, bicycle paths would be constructed.

Town of Harvard bikeways

Both existing and proposed segments would comprise this system. It would link with the Fort Devens system.

Rural roads and highways as bicycle routes

The Planning Commission has designated many of the lightly-traveled and scenic highways outside the urban areas as a resource for bicycle transportation and tourism. As described, a continuing program of maintenance and improvements should incorporate bicycle accommodations in order to preserve this resource.

Cross state bicycle routes

See the section of this report on cross-state routes for more detail on the following routes:

A proposed east-west route enters the Montachusett region in Royalston, turns south at Winchendon, following the Route 140 corridor and the eastern border of Wachusett State Park, and continues to the east along Route 62. It exits via Littleton County Road in Harvard. Alternate routings for the western end are possible on Route 122 and 32 or on Route 2A.

A north-south route, already surveyed, mapped and publicized by the Adventure Cycling Association, enters via Frye Road in Bolton, joins the east-west route briefly and exits via Shaker Road in Harvard.

The Hollis Branch Bicycle Path suggests itself as part of the north-south route, and the Crystal Lake Bicycle Path as part of the east-west route.

Montachusett region priorities

The following priorities have been developed through the inventory process:

1) Fitchburg to Leominster bikeway, incorporating a portion of the Nashua River Greenway.

2) Gardner Heritage State Park bikeway, with some engineering review and potentially including a shortcut between the ends of the originally proposed bikeway.

3) A continuing program of highway maintenance and improvement during the course of normal repair and reconstruction. The Montachusett region has in fact designated most of its highways as potential bicycle routes. In this hilly region, there are few alternatives to the highways for through travel.

4) The Fort Devens bikeway system. Especially note the proposal for use of Shirley Road, Lancaster as a through route including an underpass at Route 2.

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