Rail Trail E Newsletter February 2022 #63

We've got some 'hot-off-the-press stories for you again. The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has turned-down the request by Protect Sudbury, Inc to intervene and block the project to build a more robust grid in Sudbury. Only one permit left now and construction for several more miles of the MCRT could begin this year.

We also have news of an agreement between National Grid and the East Quabbin Land Trust for a long term land use agreement in Gilbertville where another 2.3 miles of trail construction could begin this summer.

Spring is near!

Craig Della Penna, Exec. Director
Norwottuck Network
62 Chestnut St. Northampton, MA 01062
413 575 2277 CraigDP413@gmail.com
In the GREEN area, we have news about the
Mass Central Rail Trail
and/or its connecting paths
Hot off the press news about SUDBURY. The Surface Transportation Board has ruled against the group called "PROTECT SUDBURY".
About a year ago this winter we were putting together an Amicus Brief for the Mass SJC to help them understand the real issues behind the effort to block Eversource's plan to rebuild the grid passing through Sudbury--and allow for the MCRT to be built faster.

The SJC ruled in the right way, but Protect Sudbury, Inc then went to the Surface Transportation Board right away to try and stop the project through that jurisdiction.

This past week, they lost again. Read the 6 page decision.

Here's a link to some concise callouts of the decision that are VERY clear.
BIG NEWS . . .

National Grid has entered into a long term land agreement with the East Quabbin Land Trust
This will allow for construction to begin this summer for another 2.3 miles of the MCRT in GILBERTVILLE.

Right where the Golden Spike 2022 event will be held on July 30th.

Click on the image to the left to go to a readable size on the MCRT site. Or Click here.
25% Design in Belmont now.
Community Path Passes Phase 1 Milestone
By Jarrod Goentzel, Sara Smith, and Eric Batcho. Belmont Citizens Forum

The town recently passed a major milestone in the development of the Belmont Community Path when town consultant, Nitsch Engineering, submitted the 25% Design for Phase 1 to MassDOT.

The Belmont Community Path is a critical two-mile link in the Mass Central Rail Trail, a 104-mile, off-road path that will ultimately link 26 communities between Boston and Northampton. Read more.
Saturday July 30, 2022
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 to 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.
Belmont: Link here to the Friends of the Community Path Facebook group.
Somerville: Link here to the Friends of the Community Path Facebook group. 
Waltham: Link here to the Waltham Land Trust's site.
Walham: Link here to the Waltham Bike Committee.
Waltham: Link here to the City's page about the MCRT.
Weston: Link here to the town's page about the MCRT
Weston: Link here to the history of both the RR and the advocacy to create the trail. Over 25 years of advocacy. It is now open.
Wayland: Link here
Sudbury: Link here for the N-S intersecting trail--Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. 
Hudson: Link here for the NE-SW intersecting trail--Assabet River Rail Trail.
Berlin-Hudson: Link here to the new FaceBook group.
Berlin: Link here goes to the town's Rail Trail Committee. They also have a pretty nice website with pictures of the existing dead RR corridor along other maps and images of a future trail. Link here.
Wayside segment of the MCRT: Link here to a regularly updated history of DCR's efforts on building out this complicated trail.
Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust: Link here.
Clinton Tunnel: Link here to a story on WBZ Boston TV about the tunnel.
Wachusett Greenways area: Link here.
East Quabbin Land Trust: Link here
Palmer coming soon 
Ware: Link here to the Facebook group about this segment of the MCRT'. 
Belchertown: Link for the site for Friends of the Belchertown Greenway.
Amherst, Hadley on DCR's Norwottuck section of the MCRT: Link here.
Northampton area: Link here to the Friends of Northampton Trails website.
Northampton area: Link here to the Friends of Northampton Trails Facebook.
Here's DOT's Recent Feasibility study about how to piece together the middle sections of the MCRT.
Portland to Fryeburg Maine; a trail project starts to move ahead
PORTLAND (WGME) – A newly proposed rail trail aims to connect Portland to Fryeburg.

Alongside an inactive rail line in Westbrook, there are plans to build a trail next to it to better connect surrounding communities.

“It’s such a great public asset, and all over the country and all over the world, we have these amazing rail trails connecting neighborhoods,” Westbrook Recreation Conservation Commission Chair Paul Drinan said.
Here's a great new website to go along with the great, new, soon to open trail this spring. Twin City Rail Trail. And btw, with a big, smacking, beautiful, new bridge built over Rt 2 too.
Lots of interesting new features on this website. And how about if you send me your favorite, single rail trail websites. Send me your top 5--and why you love the site--or the trail. I'll reveal the ones that people love most. Link here to the Twin City site.
South Coast Bikeway Gets an Update
      The Marion Pathways Committee met on December 22 via Zoom to provide members an update of the bike path that in collaboration with the South Coast Bikeway Alliance will continue from the paved portion at the Mattapoisett town line and continue east to Point Road.

      In 2020, Marion submitted a 75-percent plan of its Shared Use Path to the MassDOT. In contrast to the 25-percent design plan and the 100 percent completed plan that has secured all permits, a 75 percent plan is, according to John Rockwell, “almost done” yet still a plan that the DOT sends back and enacts a Conflict/Resolution meeting. Read more.
‘I Wanted That Self-Reliance Back’: Disabled Hikers Forge a New Path
By Amanda Morris. New York 2/3/22

Outdoor enthusiasts with disabilities are pushing to encounter nature on their own terms, with self-written guides, better equipment and even guide dogs trained for the backcountry.

Beneath the wooden boardwalk where Syren Nagakyrie, 40, was on a hike through Lettuce Lake Conservation Park in Tampa, Fla., dark shadows of fish moved in the vegetation-clogged waters, while red-eyed herons strode between the cypress roots that stuck out from the water like knobby, twisted knees. Read more.
Two more stories of transformational change taking place in and around Boston
RTC Highlights the 1,400 mile, Landline project near Boston
“We have a surplus of old, dead rail
lines, compared to other parts of the
country,” said Peter Sutton of MassDOT. Those early railroad developers “built out things sometimes three times the
capacity of what was needed,” Sutton said.
“In the past 20 to 25 years, we’ve been fortunate to repurpose a lot of those.” David Loutzenheiser, senior
transportation planner for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (mapc.org), has been working for the past decade on the Boston Landline, a massive trail network that aims to connect about 1,400 miles all in the Boston metro area. Read more
8 Townhomes Planned For Natick Site Along Rail Trail
A Willow Street industrial building would be demolished to make way for the town homes. Neal McNamara, Patch Staff Tue, Feb 1, 2022 NATICK, MA — A New Hampshire-based developer has submitted a proposal to build town homes backing up to the Cochituate Rail Trail north of Natick Center, according to Planning Board documents. Read more

(Some places that are still in the "2nd Stage of Truth" will be shocked by such a project. Places at the "3rd Stage of Truth" will think of this as just normal. Sort of like, move along, nothing to see here. I really like going into 2nd stage places for a lecture and have oodles of stories like this, but I really LOVE living in a 3rd Stage place where I tell stories of 'to-dos' I've been in, and no one believes me. CDP)
The Ying and the Yang of an urban trail in NJ and a rural trail across the top of Vermont.
Why NJ’s Essex-Hudson Greenway Will be a Game-Changer for Commuters, City Residents By Jacqueline Mroz 1/21/022 NJ Monthly
An unused rail line, stretching nearly 9 miles from Montclair to Jersey City, is being transformed into a beautiful new state park.

Imagine if New Jersey had its own version of New York City’s popular High Line—a beautiful walking and biking trail with gardens, benches and scenic views along the way. Read more.
Vermont To Open 93-Mile Cross-State Trail in 2023

Joel Perrigo of the Vermont Agency of Transportation told lawmakers this week that contractors have been selected to complete the 93-mile Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. It will link Swanton and St. Johnsbury.

Large portions of the trail have been open for several years. The remaining sections will be complete by fall and signs installed in 2023, according to the Associated Press. Read more
The Ying and the Yang of Westfield, Mass
Teen’s report details bike and pedestrian challenges in downtown Westfield Jan. 28, 2022, 6:31 p.m. By Mike Lydick Special to The Westfield News.
Westfield is a very walkable city. A new report, however, reveals some issues in downtown for pedestrians as well as bicyclists.

The report by high schooler Max Austin found that more than 80 downtown crosswalk instruction plaques are badly faded, creating a potential safety issue for pedestrians. Downtown also is not user-friendly for bicyclists, because there are too few bike racks.
“Report on the Pedestrian Infrastructure of Downtown Westfield — Recommendations for a Better City,” was written by Max Austin, a high school junior from Southwick. His report is based on data collected by a group of 15 volunteers he organized last November. Read more
Westfield’s preferred connector trail cuts through North Side neighborhoods etc. (And sadly avoids the more direct potential Rail-w-Trail. CDP)
Amy Porter | The Westfield News | aporter@thereminder.com
WESTFIELD — A grant-funded analysis of the best way to connect the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail from its terminus at the Women’s Temperance Park north to the proposed Southampton Rail Trail has already been narrowed down three possible routes to one preferred alternative.
The feasibility study is funded by a $66,000 grant to Westfield from MassTrails, plus a 20% city match, which the city used to hire landscape architect Stephanie Weyer from Toole Design as a consultant. Read more.
Interesting, "High-Altitude" Stories From Around the Country and Sometimes Beyond.
5 U.S. Cities Where Bike Commuting is Booming
A new report from the League of American Bicyclists traces how long-term planning and infrastructure investments allowed some cities to grow their share of bicycle commuters.

By Laura Bliss, Bloomberg
January 26, 2022, 9:00 AM EST

In 2019, just 0.5% of U.S. commuters rode a bike to work, the smallest share of any mode. But tiny shifts can make a big difference. Data-driven bike plans, safety improvements and supportive political leadership helped boost bike commute rates in several cities including Boston, in recent years. Read more.
State of Missouri has accepted a donation of 140+ miles of former RR corridor to build the Rock Island Trail
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new cross-state recreational trail is an important step closer to completion after Missouri announced last week that it was accepting ownership of an old railroad corridor that can be converted into a park.

The Department of Natural Resources plans to develop a public trail along the 144 miles of the former Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad corridor, which stretches eastward from Windsor to Beaufort. The property was donated to the state by the Missouri Central Railroad Co., a subsidiary of the utility Ameren Missouri. Read more. (imagine that. A railroad donating 140+ miles of dead corridor. It is probably because CSX isn't west of the Mississippi River. CDP)

The new Norwottuck Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation specifically set up to help get the longest rail trail in New England--the Mass Central Rail Trail --built-out, operational and notable.
We can help do that by making small, mini-grants available to local groups and communities that will bring restore/renovate/replace historic mile-markers on the corridor. Or help fund kiosks that will call out forgotten railroad or industrial history of that locale.
We will want to work with the state park agency Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) on standardized kiosk designs.
We will keep you all posted as to developments as we go. We have made it easy to DONATE through the Network for Good.
Amazingly, Constant Contact alerted us that this newsletter is in the top 10% of all of Constant Contact's newsletters, worldwide, in terms of readership engagement.
Imagine that!