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Freedom Trail red line gets durable makeover

Tourists should find it easier to follow the historic Freedom Trail with the new thermoplastic strips.Essdras M. Suarez/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Boston’s famed Freedom Trail is steeped in history, making its way past the city’s most time-honored landmarks.

But the red line that links the historic sites, winding from Boston Common to the Bunker Hill Monument, is often time-worn, washed out by hard winters and heavy traffic.

Now, the 2½-mile path that carries more than 3 million tourists across the city each year is getting an upgrade, a thermoplastic treatment that can last up to eight years, even in New England conditions.

The bright 10-inch-wide strips are being laid on crosswalks and concrete sections of the trail through Downtown Crossing, the North End, and Charlestown, making the historic walking tour far easier to follow.


“It will definitely be easier,” Danica Bybell of the Freedom Trail Foundation said. “It’s very noticeable.”

The new line — which is red, white, and blue-gray — is applied with heat, making it far more durable and avoiding yearly repainting that costs about $17,000. “With so many cars driving over, it would fade so fast,” Bybell said.

That led to disoriented tourists, as many Bostonians know all too well.

The $50,000 project began late last month and should be finished by the end of June, just in time for peak tourism season. It will replace nearly 2,000 feet of the painted sections, but will not change the bricked areas. Like the landmarks themselves, those are time-tested, Bybell said.

Peter Schworm