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EDITORIAL

The Malden River, coming to life

Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

The Malden River, pictured on December 20, 2014.

The long-abused Malden River got a boost from the state last week, when the Department of Environmental Protection ordered a key landowner to build a bike and pedestrian trail along a section of the waterfront. Slowly but surely, a plan to increase public access and connect Everett, Malden, Medford, Somerville, and surrounding areas is becoming a reality, thanks to the effort of municipalities, environmental groups, and now the Baker administration.

The order requires utility company National Grid, which owns a big chunk of land on the Everett-Malden border, to construct a 10-foot wide pathway that will be almost a half-mile long. It comes as a condition for renewing the utility’s Chapter 91 license, which applies to waterfront landowners and gives the state the ability to protect public access.

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When built, the path will help knit together trails along the Malden River that are now, for the most part, disconnected from each other and little known.

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The progress is a testament to the way that the Encore (formerly Wynn) casino project in Everett, which also includes trails along the river, has revved up transportation planning in an area that’s long been ignored. Another sign of progress: The owner of the shopping center next to the casino site has reached an agreement to expand the trails on its property, after prodding from the Conservation Law Foundation.

Tied together, the projects are making one of the least bike-friendly parts of Greater Boston better. What’s needed to tie it all together is the long-discussed bridge over the Mystic River from the Assembly Orange Line station to the casino. The bridge would enable cyclists and pedestrians direct access to the T, and would form the keystone of the growing network of bike trails north of Boston. It deserves to be a priority for regional planners.