After Outcry, Popular Bike Path Will Only Have a Few Days of ‘Rolling Detours' During Orange Line Shutdown

Orange Line riders were being encouraged to take bicycles during the shutdown, from Friday through Sept. 18

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A plan for moving closures on a popular bike path that runs parallel to the MBTA Orange Line during the first two weeks of the train line's shutdown was reworked Wednesday, amid outcry shortly after it was announced.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation had announced the moving closures on the Southwest Corridor Park bike path starting this weekend to assist the repair work. The closures will have clearly marked detours, the agency said, but it urged people bicycling or on foot to be cautious.

The original advisory of the moving closures on the bike path, which is already popular with commuters, said it would last two weeks -- beginning Friday, Aug. 19 and lasting through Friday, Sept. 2.

The announcement shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday was met with incredulity on social media, with Orange Line riders having been encouraged to take bicycles during the MBTA shutdown, which will last from Friday through Sept. 18.

"FYI @MassDCR the Orange Line is shutting down for 30 days so you may want to rethink this thx," state Rep. Mike Connolly wrote on Twitter.

Christian Neal MilNeil, the editor of transportation publication Streetsblog MASS, tweeted, "I assumed it was a hoax. But it's real."

The MBTA said in a statement that it's still in dialogue with the City of Boston "regarding the impacts of the Orange Line work and alternative transportations options."

Boston Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge gave an update a few hours later, saying he'd spoken with the agency and that an adjustment to the plans would be released soon.

"They know the path is critical, especially during the shutdown. They will be providing an updated plan shortly to make sure travel is not disrupted," Franklin-Hodge said.

The DCR's updated plan, released less about eight hours later Wednesday, states "rolling detours" will only last a few days, as opposed to two weeks of moving closures. From Thursday, Aug. 18 through Saturday, Aug. 20, cyclists will be "briefly shifted" to an adjacent path on a rolling basis "with minimal disruption" to travel on the Southwest Corridor, the DCR said. A police detail will be on site, in addition to clearly marked traffic patterns.

The Southwest Corridor Park runs for about 4 miles along the Orange Line from Forest Hills, the train's southern terminus, to Back Bay, linking Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Back Bay and the South End.

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