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Work underway to create bike path in Peabody

PEABODY – Peabody residents will soon see the day when they can ride their Huffy down a scenic bikeway from one end of the city to the other.Members from the Community Development Department announced Tuesday that crews have begun cutting down trees and bushes, making way for 4.6 miles of a 10-foot wide asphalt path with two-foot shoulders made of crushed stone.The path will follow that of the old abandoned railroad tracks from the Middleton/Peabody line all the way to the Lahey Clinic. It will travel along the Ipswich River, wrap around Crystal Lake and Elginwood Pond, continue down Lowell Street past the High School and Brooksby Farm, and come to an end outside the Lahey Clinic, just before the Salem line.The project will cost about $3 million, much of which was primarily funded through state and federal grants. The city’s Community Preservation Committee contributed $162,000.”The (Community Preservation Act), once again, came through in a big way,” said Mayor Michael Bonfanti. “The Bikeway is a great spine to our citywide open space network. We will continue to add great recreation opportunities along the Bikeway for decades to come.”Community Development Senior Planner Blair Haney said the asphalt will be put down later this spring when the weather’s warmer and the ground has thawed. The entire project, constructed by the New Hampshire based company S&R Construction, is slated for completion by spring of 2009.”I could not be more pleased,” said Bonfanti. “We have waited a long time for this great project and now it will be a reality.”Administrative changes throughout state government originally delayed the financial aspect of the project, as did studies conducted by MassHighway to ensure the land would always be used as a bike path. Concerns over the effects of the asphalt on the environment and the safety of the people utilizing a path that winds around busy routes 1, 114, and 95, also slowed things down.But all such concerns have been put to rest, funding has come through, and permits have been administered. All the city has to do is wait just a tad bit longer to dust off their bike helmets and use it.Bonfanti will host an official groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, March 27 at 3 p.m. All members of the public are invited to intend.

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