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Old Colony Planning Council

Existing facilities

This region, once largely rural and with only one urban concentration, Brockton, is experiencing increasing residential development. Many rural roads remain attractive for bicycling. Traffic volume has reached a level on many highways such that wide outside lanes or shoulders would help accommodate bicycle traffic more comfortably.

Massachusetts Bicycle Route 1

A large section of the Massachusetts Bicycle Route 1, the Boston to Cape Bikeway, is in the Old Colony district. The part of this bike route in the Old Colony region traverses entirely along existing roadways.

Myles Standish State Forest paths

The Myles Standish State Forest, with several bicycle paths, is mainly in the Old Colony region, in Plymouth. These paths were built in the 1970’s.

D. W. Field Park, Brockton

There is an existing designated bicycle path loop in D. W. Field Park in Brockton.

Ferry Service

A passenger ferry which transports bicycles travels between Plymouth and Provincetown in the summer tourist season.

Proposed Projects

The following proposals have been submitted to the bicycle facilities inventory.

West Bridgewater bicycle routes

This is a comprehensive, community-based bicycle route system. It includes segments on roads and also separate bicycle paths. It could potentially connect with other facilities in Easton and Bridgewater. The bikeway connects the town center with numerous destinations around the town, and crosses the barrier posed by Route 24.

Bridgewater bicycle routes

This community-based bicycle route system includes only segments on roads, making it a simple and economical proposal. It connects with other facilities in West Bridgewater. Road improvements and path segments are probably necessary in the long run as population density and traffic increase. This facility is already in place, but road improvements would add to its utility.

North-South routes between Taunton and Easton-Stoughton-Canton

The major highway in the Taunton-Canton corridor is limited-access Route 24. A mile to the west of this is State Highway 138. This is unusually suitable for bicycle use, partly because Route 24 takes so much through traffic, and partly because of the wide shoulders. (Route 138 appears to have been converted from three to two lanes at some time in the past. The short segment between the two junctions with Route 123 in Brockton appears to have been converted to four narrow lanes without shoulders.)

Also in the corridor are the Old Bay Road, the prehistoric and Colonial trail between Narragansett and Massachusetts Bay; and an abandoned Penn Central railbed. The inventory project has received suggestions concerning these:

Penn Central Right of Way, North Easton to Taunton

This railbed holds considerable promise as a through route as traffic increases on Route 138 and the Old Bay Road. The railbed has been used for a (lightly-traveled) street in Easton, but continues into Stoughton. There is an underpass at Route 495. The utility of a path on this railbed would be increased by connections into and though Taunton. If this could accomplish a connection to the Taunton River Trail, a regional facility would result.

Old Bay Road, Canton to Taunton

The Old Bay Trail (or Bay Street) lies about a mile west of Route 138. It is scenic and has been the preferred route for vacationers. However, it avoids town centers, rendering it less useful for local transportation; and increasing traffic is rendering it less attractive for bicycling. The southern end in Taunton has been widened, and provides access to Watson Pond State. A suggestion was received for designation and improvement as a bicycle route.

Kingston Paths

Kingston has proposed several trails linking the planned MBTA commuter rail station with other parts of town. Only some are currently slated to be improved to be suitable for bicycle travel.

Abandoned rail rights-of-way

In section VIII of its Transportation Plan, the Old Colony Planning Council has pointed out a number of abandoned railroad rights of way. The Taunton-Canton and West Bridgewater-Easton railbeds have already been described.

There is another railbed of unusual interest: the Middleboro-to Plymouth line. This has been submitted to the inventory project as a citizen suggestion rather than a formal proposal. However, its potential for transportation and tourism is unusually high. It connects historic Plymouth with the scenic cranberry-growing country of Carver and Middleboro; both are major tourist attractions.

Cross-state routes

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

The easternmost north-south cross-state route, the officially designated Massachusetts Bicycle Route 1, passes through the Old Colony area.

The southern east-west route passes south of the Old Colony area, but a spur passes to the northeast through Carver into Plymouth. If the Plymouth-Middleboro railbed were improved as a bicycle path, it might be incorporated into a more northerly route.

Old Colony region priorities

Priorities developed through the inventory project are:

1) West Bridgewater bicycle routes. These are a model of a community system of bicycle facilities, distinguished by its flexibility in using both on-road and path segments.

2) Plymouth-Middleboro Rail-Trail including the link between the new Commuter Rail station in Cordage Park and the downtown Plymouth waterfront area, as well as the extension through the cranberry-growing country to Middleborough.

3) Taunton-Stoughton rail-trail. This links to proposed facilities in Taunton and West Bridgewater, and provides an alternative route in a corridor where congestion of roads is increasing rapidly.

4) Improvements to Bridgewater bicycle routes. This project is distinguished by its economy. Street improvements would be made over a number of years during the course of normal maintenance.

In addition, a number of interesting proposals reported in the Transportation Plan could not be considered for lack of sufficient detail.

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