Bikeway alliance receives trail blazing, gear grant

By Angie Hilsman | Jul 03, 2017
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch Riders pedal Russells Mills Road.

The South Coast Bikeway Alliance — aimed at connecting the community through recreation and alternative transportation — has received two grants that will promote its work in Dartmouth.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation has awarded the alliance $6,800 in funding to host a workshop series on trail blazing, while the United Way has awarded the alliance $500 to equip pedaling commuters with light sets.

The DCR-funded workshops will include GPS trail mapping, sustainable trail development, and skills training in stonework, carpentry, and chainsaw work, and are planned for the upcoming fall and spring season. The SCBA is still securing dates, times, and venues for each workshop, said Dartmouth SCBA representative Sandra Medeiros via email.

"This is our first step in a long-term plan to work with stakeholders throughout the South Coast to provide a network of on and off road trails connecting our communities," said Medeiros.

Additionally, the SCBA is required to contribute to the program with a 20-percent match in funding. All South Coast residents will be invited to participate in the programming, SCBA members said.

An informational session on the workshops will be held on Monday, July 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Dartmouth Town Hall, room 315. Presenters will explain what the workshops would involve, who can benefit from them, provide examples of prior workshops, and explain how the skills can be applied.

The United Way grant will allow the bikeway alliance, together with The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, to equip Southeastern Massachusetts bikers who otherwise could not afford it with front and rear light sets, said Mattapoisett SCBA representative Bonne DeSousa.

"This is a promotion of safe cycling in general," she said.

The bikeway alliance is currently working with various landowners in North Dartmouth to create a multi-use greenway that connects the Acushnet Cedar Swamp in New Bedford to the Fall River Bioreserve, said Medeiros.

"The timing of the greenway building depends on funding availability and local support for the project," said DeSousa.

The 3.8-mile section would run west from the cedar swamp, around Turner Pond, through a split 96 acres of land deeded to the town, across the regional park and Ridge Hill Reserves, around the Copicut Reservoir, and into the bioreserve. It could, however, take several years to develop, said SCBA members.

Upon realization, the South Coast Bikeway will be a 50-mile continuous system of bike paths and multi-use trails that connect Rhode Island to Cape Cod. Included municipalities are Dartmouth, Westport, New Bedford, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion, Wareham, Swansea, Somerset, and Fall River. Several segments of bikeway already exists in some of the aforementioned cities and towns.

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