Rail Trail Newsletter 2017 #9


Lots of different kinds of stories in this issue. Did you know that AMC has a trail crew for hire? Ever hear of MABPAB? [Mass Bike Ped Adv Board]. Wait till you see the presentations from their recent meeting at Mass DOT District 2. Ever been to the rail trail outside of Burlington VT and the causeway connecting the Islands of Lake Champlain? It will be etched into your memory.  Did you know that two communities in NH want to allow ATVs on their rail trails? And now the opposition to the plan is starting to form.  

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Craig Della Penna
413 575 2277
"In the News"
 and Updates About the Longest Rail Trail Project in New England
Communities on the 
 on the MCRT and their websites

Did you know that many communities (or groups like land trusts) on the MCRT alignment are working on their section of the trail? 

Here are links to websites where you can learn who the contact person is, when these groups meet, when hearings are being planned and how sign up to get notices sent to you directly.
Belmont:  Link here to the town appointed committee. 
Belmont:   Link here  to the Belmont Citizens Forum. This is a periodical that has the best info about the MCRT in Belmont. 
Somerville: Link here to the Friends of the Community Path.  Their Face Book page is here
Waltham: Link here.
Weston: Link here.
Wayland:Link here
Sudbury: Link here for the N-S corridor. 
Hudson: Link here.    
Berlin: Link here goes to the town's Rail Trail Committee.  Once on that page, you can sign up to get notices of meetings, agendas, minutes, etc.  They also have a pretty nice website w pix of the future trail.  Link here.
Clinton: Link here.
Wachusett Greenways area: Link here.
East Quabbin Land Trust service area: Link here.   
Ware:  Check out the town's new Open Space Plan. Link here
Belchertown/Northampton area: Link here.
Eversource to begin rail trail work on the Mass Central Rail Trail in Weston and Wayland
WAYLAND – Eversource expects to open a four-mile gravel road below its transmission towers in Wayland and Weston this December, a path the state will pave as part of the Mass Central Rail Trail.The rail trail could [ WILL cdp] one day stretch 100 miles between Boston and Northampton.The opening of four miles in Wayland and Weston will be the largest step forward for the Wayside section of the MCRT to date. Eversource will begin construction in September and finish by year’s end. The state will pave as soon as weather permits. READ MORE
Mass DOT's Bike-Ped Advisory Board recently met in Northampton at DOT District 2 HQ
 Early in the 21st century, MASS DOT formed the Mass Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board (MABPAB). This board is made up of both advocates from various bike and pedestrian groups around the state AND representatives from various state agencies.  It is through this group's broad support and encouragement that MASS DOT begin to transition to an all forms of transportation friendly DOT.

When I was on the board it met, almost exclusively, in Boston at DOT HQ. Pete Sutton, DOT's Bike-Ped Coordinator and Chair of this board, has begun to hold meetings outside of Boston. Recently it was held at District 2 HQ on the north side of Northampton. Due to the ongoing busy-ness of my RE practice, I was unable to attend, but I did get the presentations and have posted them here for you.  You are going to be amazed about all that is happening, including the State Bike Plan, an update as to what is happening in District 2--the CT River Valley--and an update about what is happening here in Northampton. Click on each image below to go to that presentation.
Above is the front page of a presentation about the Mass Bike Plan and the ongoing survey.
Above here is the presentation about the projects under of purview of Mass DOT's District 2.  One of the most exciting projects there is the Schell Bridge. 

To the left you'll see a presentation about the City of Northampton's efforts to build a world-class network of safe walking/biking opportunities.  It highlights the fact that one of the first rail trails in New England is here, and what effect it has had on the community over the course of its being in the ground for over a generation. 
Did you know that AMC now has an experienced trail building crew available for hire?
Since 1919, the AMC has been supported by a professional trail building crew that maintains and constructs trails throughout the Northeast. From bridge construction and campsite development, to trail maintenance, to trail design and planning, the AMC trail crew has the know-how and enthusiasm to help you complete your project.

As the nation’s oldest and most experienced conservation and recreation organization with a long history of successful initiatives, the AMC provides a wide range of professional trail building services to all land managers and land owners.  READ MORE
Proposed Tiverton Bike Path
A new biking association has been established in Tiverton. The group is known as  Bike Tiverton . Their primary goal is to establish an off the road bike path within the right of way of the former Old Colony R.R. that follows the shore line of Mount Hope Bay in Tiverton. READ MORE
Editorial: Railing about the trail in Plainville and Southington, CT
More than a dozen Plainville residents descended upon their town meeting last Monday to voice opposition to the town’s plan to close the gap in the Plainville-Southington section of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. It’s a sign that Plainville is getting closer and closer to finishing their section of a trail that links New Haven to Northampton, Mass. before linking to a larger trail system which stretches from Harvard to Yale. Where’s the biggest gap in that journey? You guessed it. Southington and Plainville. READ MORE
Biking across Lake Champlain on an old railroad causeway
By WILSON RING Associated Press

SOUTH HERO, Vt. — Abandoned rail lines have been converted into recreation paths all over the United States. But the Island Line Trail in Vermont is unusual: It includes a causeway that runs across the open waters of Lake Champlain, from the Vermont mainland to the island community of South Hero. And that causeway includes a gap to allow boats through.

So how do bikers and others get across the 200-foot (61-meter) gap, known as the cut? An in-season ferry takes them from one side to the other.

It's been more than a half-century since trains used the narrow causeway built on marble and granite blocks around the turn of the 20th century. A rotating bridge once connected the causeway's two sections, with the bridge opening up for the boats that now sail through the gap, but the bridge is long gone. The trip by ferry takes just a few minutes. Read more here.

Therapy on Wheels: Biking in Western Mass
For Stamford, CT resident Alissa Karbel, western Massachusetts provides the ultimate retreat from her busy life in the financial industry. She’s been coming to western Massachusetts for years now to go on group bike rides with Northampton’s bicycle touring company, Ride Noho and has discovered what she calls "therapy on wheels.”   [I'll also mention that Ride Noho is a neighbor of mine, only 2 blocks from my house. CDP]   READ MORE
The ARRT Now Sees Kayaks, Too
Did you know that the Assabet River Rail Trail in the Metro-West area outside of Boston now has 4 kayak launching areas?   READ MORE about the opening of one here.  Also, on the ARRT site is a link called Bike Maps where you'll find the best maps of the regions bike paths. Check it out.
More New Yorkers Opting for Life in the Bike Lane

On one of Brooklyn’s busier commuter streets, bicycles now outnumber cars.

The two-wheelers glide down a bike lane on Hoyt Street, which links Downtown Brooklyn with thriving brownstone-lined neighborhoods. There are so many bikes during the evening rush that they pack together at red lights and spill out in front of cars.

It is the kind of bike hegemony that was once hard to imagine in New York City, where cars and taxis long claimed the streets and only hardened cyclists braved the chaotic traffic.

“New York has really become a biking world,” said Jace Rivera, 42, a former construction worker who so enjoyed riding his bike to work that he changed careers last year to become a bike messenger. “The city has gotten a lot more crowded, and the trains have gotten a lot more expensive. By biking, you spare yourself the crowds, you save a lot of money, and you can go to work on time.” You can read more HERE.

TWO NH Communities Appeal for Federal Leeway on Trails. They Want to Allow ATVS on Their Rail Trails.
By Patrick O’Grady  Valley News Correspondent 

Claremont — The Claremont city manager and town manager in Haverhill are pursuing another avenue to gain approval to reinstate access for motorized vehicles on the communities’ respective recreational trails. A waiver request from Claremont was rejected by the federal government last year. READ THE ARTICLE IN THE VALLEY NEWS

In a letter to the state’s congressional delegation, City Manager Ryan McNutt and Haverhill Town Manager Jo Lacaillade requested a meeting with lawmakers to explore the possibility of a “legislative resolution” to the issue. AND Charles Martin, advocate and author of New Hampshire Rail Trails, also wrote a letter about this issue. READ THOSE LETTERS HERE.

And hot off the press in the Keene Sentinel is this story about Senator Shaheen supporting the ATV expansion and opposition to this now forming in Keene.  READ MORE.

       In 2016, I commissioned Tom Adams of Reelife Productions  to produce a series of short videos about each section of the burgeoning network of rail trails here in the CT River Valley. Turns out that there are 14 and you're gonna love them! 
     The one I'm featuring today is about why it took 13 years to get a 3/4 mile section of trail built. This will give just a hint why it is so difficult to build trails in Massachusetts  SEE THE VIDEO

Here's my calendar of upcoming in-person lectures, online webinars, bike tours, book-signings etc. E mail me at: Craig@GreenwaySolutions.org for more information on any of these events or if your community might like to host one.