Featured Greenway: Roslindale Arboretum Gateway Path

The Roslindale Arboretum Gateway Path is part of a proposed 1.5-mile shared-use path that will connect the Roslindale Village business district and commuter rail station with Forest Hills station. 

When the path is complete, it will improve neighborhood access to open space and transit while also providing safe and convenient passage for people walking or bicycling. 

Source: Courtesy of the Arnold Arboretum

Along Washington Street you will find, tucked away behind an ice cream factory, a tunnel to a path and green space that shows how closely connected Boston still is.

From first glance, one could easily miss this connection to the Arboretum, one of Boston’s most enchanting areas. Tucked at the end of Arboretum Road, an unassuming neighborhood street that began its life as a cow path in the late 1800s, is a secret: a tunnel underneath the rail lines that bridges the divide to a green oasis. Commissioned in partnership with Roslindale's local artists and the Boston Transportation Department and the Mayor’s Mural Crew, cascading leaves blend nature and art as they rush through the tunnel from Washington Street to South Street.

Roslindale’s population has ebbed and flowed alongside fluctuations in housing, growth, and other changes in Boston. Roslindale is a resilient community, rich in diversity; for instance, since 2010, the Black and Latinx communities have increased by nearly 11% and 14%, respectively. 

In addition, many neighborhoods within Roslindale are classified as Environmental Justice areas due to the spoken languages, racial identities, and income of residents, 20% of whom make less than $25,000 a year. Though culturally rich, Roslindale’s communities are still vulnerable to climate change, transit fare increases, and air pollution from driving.

Source: LivableStreets Alliance

In Fall 2015, the Emerald Network, WalkUP Roslindale, and graduate students from Tufts teamed up to complete a feasibility study about the Roslindale Gateway Path and its surrounding neighborhoods. The study received nearly 700 responses, and a community visioning workshop for the path drew 100 participants.

From the beginning of the project, community members have been integral to the inception and design of the pathway. Steve Gag and Greg Tobin of WalkUP Roslindale and the Arboretum Park Conservancy have been with this project since early 2010s, working with communities, gathering feedback, and helping to procure funding. Because of these critical conditions, the connection to transit is vital. For example, 92% of community members have indicated that they would use the path often or occasionally once it was constructed, with 70% who commute using train stations saying they would use the path more than once a week. With a new connection from Roslindale to Washington Street that extends the Blackwell Path (named after John Blackwell, who came up with the idea of a footpath connecting the Arboretum to Forest Hills Station), this pathway will increase access to nearby parks and provide a better route to get to transit. In addition, it will include new entrances to the Arboretum, improving access to the park.

Today, the path is in design by the Horsley Witten Group. And the positive impact doesn't stop there: the Roslindale Gateway path will help with the larger vision of the Emerald Network by contributing to the broader network of bike and pedestrian paths that connect locations like the Southwest Corridor Park, Franklin Park, and the Arboretum

Multiple sources of funding have helped get this project off the ground, including the Arboretum Park Conservancy, DCR’s Recreational Trails Program, the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, and Community Preservation Act from the City of Boston, lead by Christine Poff. 

Source: LivableStreets Alliance

The hyperlocal and regional benefits of the Roslindale Gateway Path are immeasurable, from a boost to the local economy of Roslindale Village to the reduction of vehicles leading to calming streets, to more access to green space to improve public health. With work from visionaries, advocates, legislators, and partners, this twenty-four-year vision will have an impact that lasts for years.


This project would not be possible without the tireless efforts of residents, legislators, WalkUP Roslindale, RozzieBikes, LivableStreets, the City of Boston’s Transportation and Parks Departments, the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, the Arboretum Park Conservancy,  the City of Boston’s Community Preservation Committee, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, the Solomon Foundation, Roslindale Village Main Street, and consultants Horsley Witten. 

Thanks to Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston Community Preservation Fund, the $500,000 grant will go towards the construction of the path. Construction for the Roslindale Gateway Path is slated to go to bid and construction in Spring 2020.