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Boston's Big Dig Clears Path for Exercise

Boston's Big Dig -- the country's largest highway construction project -- is finally near completion. A new 10-lane expressway now snakes beneath Boston's downtown, replacing old, elevated roads that used to be clogged with traffic.

Moving the corridor underground has created some 300 acres of open space above ground, and many streets have also been widened. Health experts, community activists and civil engineers are all eyeing that land -- with calories in mind.

Experts estimate that nearly half of Boston adults are overweight. Urban planners and community activists agree that the newly opened space provides an opportunity to counter that. A number of proposals have been submitted, and the thinking behind them is similar: Bostonians will be more likely to exercise daily if there are paths that parallel familiar city streets, connect neighborhoods to recreational sites -- and lead to more practical destinations. The idea is to make it easier for people to walk or bike from home to offices, schools and grocery stores.

As Madge Kaplan of member station WGBH reports, what's happening in Boston is part of a larger movement around the country: design communities that promote active lifestyles.

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