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With the rise of bike-sharing programs, a rail trail through Lynn is in the works

The Northern Strand Community Trail will eventually go through Lynn to Nahant Beach. This map shows the completed trail from Everett, through Malden, Revere, and Saugus to the proposed Lynn line. (Courtesy Photo)

LYNN — With hundreds of bikes hitting city streets this month, the time is right for a rail trail, say transportation advocates.

In the first public meeting to advance the Northern Strand Community Trail through Lynn, the state environmental agency, the city’s Department of Community Development, along with a Boston landscape architect firm, welcomed more than five dozen residents to the Lynn Auditorium Tuesday night.

“This is the introduction to the project and a chance to express your interest and help us determine what this will mean for the path in Lynn,” said Kurt Gaertner, director of land policy and planning at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affair.

The agency has pledged $1.5 million toward the design of the trail, which starts at the Mystic River and extends through Malden, Everett, Revere, Saugus, and Lynn. In addition, Gaertner said the state expects to find the money to pay the $10 million tab to build the trail. Construction is expected to begin next summer.

Opened in 2012, the paved trail runs from Air Force Road at Everett’s Distillery District to the intersection of Beach and Lynn streets in Malden. The second unpaved segment of the trail snakes through Revere and Saugus, crossing under U.S. Route 1 near Rumney Marsh Reservation. The goal is to connect those northern Boston suburbs with Nahant Bay in Lynn.

Imogene Hatch, landscape architect at Brown, Richardson + Rowe, the Boston firm hired to conduct the hearings, welcomed residents.

“The goal is to extend the trail from the Mystic River to the beach in Lynn,” she said. “Every community has its own flavor, and standards, and we want to hear about yours.”

Leny Thomas, co-owner of Preps By Chefs, a Lynn company that prepares pre-made meals, asked if there would be an opportunity to offer food along the trail.

“That’s a long stretch to go without food. Will people have to deviate from the path to get refreshments?” he asked.

Clarissa Rowe, a co-founder of Brown, Richardson + Rowe who helped design the Minuteman Trail from Somerville through Bedford more than 20 years ago, said food and bike shops opened along the trail after entrepreneurs saw opportunity.

Gordon Hall, president of The Hall Co., and a Daily Item director, asked whether the trail would link to Barry Park on Boston Street.

In response, Hatch said anything is possible.

“We are keenly aware of making connections that work for communities,” she said.

One woman asked whether the trail would be lit.

But Rowe said she would recommend against lighting.

“It creates a false sense of security,” she said.

The trail comes on the heels of two bike sharing companies, ofo and Ant Bicycle, that launched in Lynn earlier this month.

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