The Blackstone River Greenway was conceived of as including a 48-mile long bikeway connecting Worcester, MA, to Providence, RI. Running the length of the National Heritage Corridor, the bikeway would follow along the Blackstone River and/or Canal wherever possible. It has been a legacy project for the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, which has been championing it for many years as one of its top priorities. Like all major Corridor projects, this is a partnership project, with major partners including state transportation and environmental agencies, which have assumed lead responsibility for planning, design, construction and management. The Corridor Commission's contributions include technical planning assistance, especially in the early stages, assistance in securing federal and state matching funding, and public outreach and coordination with local communities.
Several more miles of bike path are now in the construction phase, in southern Massachusetts (Blackstone, Millville and Uxbridge). Additionally, the sections in the northern part of Rhode Island (North Smithfield and Woonsocket) are in design, and we hope to see construction beginning in a year or two. While this sounds like a long time, it's really right around the corner in terms of engineering work, permitting, and utility coordination - just to name a few of the challenges. The project update (PDF document) provides information about the design and construction plans for remaining segments, and shows the visitor centers along the way. These visitor centers have a wealth of information about nearby wildlife, birds, paddling spots... and ice cream cones.
Bikepath Updates - July 2014 (PDF document).
Besides connecting 14 cities and towns in the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, the Greenway also links with the Blackstone River and the historic Blackstone Canal to form the Riverway, a corridor within the Corridor that will ultimately offer unique opportunities for residents and visitors alike to experience history, enjoy nature and engage in a variety of recreational activities. The Blackstone River Greenway will also connect to the already completed East Bay Bike Path, allowing users to continue to Bristol (and ultimately) Newport, RI.
Rails to Trails Conservancy by David Figgins
In Rhode Island, collaboration between the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Management has resulted in 11.5 miles of continuous off-road bike path being open to the public in Cumberland, Lincoln, and Woonsocket, and several miles of on-road path in Providence and Pawtucket. In total, nearly 16 miles of bike path have been completed along the Blackstone River Greenway, and the remaining 8 miles are in design.
To encourage people to begin using the bikeway even in areas where final construction will take more time, and also to keep up the momentum for the project, some sections of Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Woonsocket have implemented a "Bike Stripe" program, a temporary way to identify the route of the Greenway’s bike path with on-road markings and signage.
Approximately 3.5 miles of the bikeway are complete, including 2.5 miles of off-road facility in Millbury and Worcester. In Worcester, additional on-road path stretches connect the Greenway with various neighborhoods, including Quinsigamond Village where a bike path spur is expected to go into construction in 2014 and connect with the Worcester Blackstone Visitor Center, currently in design. Between Crompton Park and Union Station, another stretch of the bike path is in design and is expected to be on-road facility where the users will be separated from roadway traffic.
At the southern end of the Massachusetts stretch, a 3.7-mile stretch in Blackstone, Millville and Uxbridge is in construction. Bridge repairs began in 2012, and new bridge construction as well as construction of the bike path within the Greenway will be done over the next 2 years. The hope is that this section of the bike path will open late in 2016. A short, half-mile connection between the Blackstone “depot” site and the RI state line is in design. Additionally, several miles in Uxbridge, from the Greenway trail near Route 146 Exit 1 to the River Bend Farm on Oak Street, is being evaluated by the state’s engineering/design firm.
Blackstone River Bikeway Map
View Blackstone River Valley Bikeway in a larger map