There’s a shorthand — reflected in the TAB’s article and blog post on the opening of the Lower Falls bridge — to speak of opponents of the project as abutters. The bridge project, which includes the approaches from Concord Street in Newton and Washington Street in Wellesley, abuts just two or three single-family properties. Those abutters have been generally supportive of the project, as reflected in the decision not to put a fence between the approach from Concord Street and the abutting properties.
The opponents of the bridge are abutters, but abutters of the DCR-owned right-of-way as it extends from Concord Street in the other direction — towards Riverside. These abutters live principally on St. Mary Street and Baker Place, with backyards along the right-of-way. They don’t want the DCR to improve the right-of-way into a pedestrian path. Acknowledging the inherent risk of speaking for them, the abutters opposed the bridge project because they look at it as the first step towards an inevitable effort to complete the path from Wellesley to Riverside, which they oppose.
The bridge has independent value. It’s a real gem as it is. But, the trail abutters’/bridge opponents’ concerns are not without basis. There are lots of people, me included, who think that a rail trail will be a real neighborhood and city asset. Importantly, proponents of the rail trail include many trail abutters, like Kay Khan. And, the proponent ranks are going to grow as folks enjoy the bridge.