Abington gets $495k grant for Washington St. improvements

The town is looking to make it safer to walk and bike along one of Abington’s oldest and most important corridors.

The state has awarded Abington a $495,000 “Complete Streets” state grant to make sidewalk improvements and create a nearly 2-mile long shared bike lane along Washington Street. Town officials hope it’s another piece in a crosstown recreation path that eventually connects the Hanover rail trail with Ames Nowell State Park.

John Stone, the town’s public works superintendent, said the Washington Street project is still being designed. However, the grant application said the town the town wants to build a 9,900-linear-foot shared walking/bike lane along Washington Street, and replace about 1,800 linear feet of sidewalk and granite curbing from the southern entrance to the Beaver Brook Elementary School up to Lantern Lane.

“I think it’s a great idea to continue the walking path we did up to the high school,” said Selectmen Chairman Alex Bezanson.

Abington received a $396,000 Complete Streets grant in 2020 to build a shared walking and biking path up Lincoln Boulevard and Gliniewicz Way to the Middle/High School. That project originally narrowed the streetscape from two lanes to one, but the roadway was later rewidened to allow for two travel lanes.

Washington Street is the town’s oldest north/south roadway. The street paralells in places the Satucket Path, a trail used by Native Americans to travel between Robbins Pond in East Bridgewater and Wessagusset in North Weymouth. Andrew Ford, the town’s first official resident, built a house near whats now the intersection of Washington Street and Adams Street.

An existing sidewalk already runs along the length of Washington Street from its start near the Whitman line up to the intersection with Route 18 across from Trucchi’s. Portions of Washington Street near Abington Center have a sidewalk on both sides. Stone said the roadway is wide enough to accomodate a shared walking/bike path without needing to take any additional land.

Bezanson said he, Town Manager Scott Lambiase, and Selectman Tim Chapin have been working on a plan to create a series of walking and bike paths across the Abington that connects some of the town’s major recreational offerings. The idea is still under development, Bezanson said, but ideally would allow walkers and cyclists to safely travel from the rail trail – which runs all the way down to Hanover – to the 600-acre Ames Nowell State Park.

One piece being looked at involves constructing a shared walking/bike path next to the Town Library that runs through town-owned land to Broadmeadow Lane and eventually Hancock Street. A major sewer connection currently runs through the land. One thought is that the path would also help students who live on the town’s west side more easily walk to the MIddle/High School complex. It would also run adjacent to a large swath of town-owned land that’s being eyed as a possible town forest.

“We’re looking to do it in three, maybe four, phases,” Bezanson said.