Rail Trail E Newsletter July 2021 #57

Lots going on again this month. Biggest thing for me though is that the next Golden Spike conference is going ahead on Saturday October 16, 2021. Registration is now open.

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 its connecting paths
Momentum is picking up again for the Belmont Community Path, a critical two-mile link in the Mass Central Rail Trail (MCRT), a safe, off-road path that will ultimately link communities between Boston and Northampton. The 25% design is nearing completion, and the town has appropriated funds to begin securing the right of way. Both of these steps move Belmont closer to obtaining state and federal construction funds and bringing the path to fruition. Read more.
Excellent news -

We're excited to announce that EQLT was awarded funding from DCR's MassTrails Grant Program to expand the Mass Central Rail Trail in Ware and Hardwick!

This grant is expected to cover 80% of the construction cost and the matching 20% will be raised through local fundraising efforts. EQLT is in process of getting official approval from National Grid to build the trail as the next step.

The project funds construction of the 1.8-mile long, 10 foot wide paved path of Phase 2 of the
Mass Central Rail Trail in Ware and Hardwick. It begins on the former railroad bed north of Church Street in Ware, runs parallel to the Ware River, and stops before reaching the Covered Bridge. This grant builds on 1.2-miles completed in the last few years along the MCRT and will
nearly connect the Grenville Park in Ware with the Gilbertville Fitness Trail, a gap of 3.5 miles
Mural on the Mass Central Rail Trail will expand "tunnel vision"
Ken Cleveland Landmark correspondent

RUTLAND — A portion of the Mass Central Rail Trail, an 11-mile stretch running through Sterling, West Boylston, Holden and Rutland, was completed in 2006 with the addition of a tunnel.

The Charnock tunnel is a bit stark. Plans are under way for a mural in the tunnel. Read More
ANOTHER $300K Grant for the Belchertown Greenway section of the MCRT
This project prepares the design, engineering, and permitting for Phase II of Segment 1C and 1
D in the draft Mass Central Rail Trail Feasibility Study, the Belchertown Greenway-MCRT Shared Use Path.

This segment begins near Town Beach; passing the New England Small Farm Institute,
the redeveloped Belchertown State School Property, Carriage Grove; the recently funded Lake 
Wallace Sensory Trail; and popular conservation areas.
(This is is the 2nd consecutive $300K grant for the MCRT in Belchertown. CDP)

  • Half-day conference
  • Two nationally known keynote speakers
  • Set in a historic church as our venue
  • Five walking or biking tours of the developing trail and historic factory town of Gilbertville, Massachusetts.
  • $39 + Event Brite fee includes light breakfast, lunch, networking, and afternoon tour to chose from.
  • Capacity is only 100 in-person. Sign up now.

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 history of DCR's efforts on this.
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.
Here's a couple of stories, right off the bat. Taunton and Lowell
Could scenic Taunton River Trail soon become a reality? $4.8M tantalizes 30-year advocate
Chris Helms The Taunton Daily
TAUNTON — Thirty years ago, Bill Napolitano lugged around a 12-foot-long blueprint of the nature trail he wanted built, unrolling it for room after room of would-be supporters. 
Today, the vision of a 22-mile-long Taunton River Trail for walkers, joggers and bicyclists has never been closer to reality. 
The U.S. House narrowly passed a bill that earmarks $4.8 million for the project. Read more. (30+ years???
An act of Congress needed? CDP)
Long-awaited construction begins on Lowell Connector Trail Project
July 15, 2021 at 7:57 a.m

LOWELL — Construction has begun on the Lowell Connector Trail Project, a multiuse path that will connect the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail and the Concord River Greenway in Lowell.

The trail would provide additional safety for the street artists and residents viewing the art. According to the release, the goal is for the trail to become the first sanctioned aerosol art venue in Massachusetts. Read more.
Acton installs automated sensors at intersections along rail trail
By John Laidler Boston Globe

The town teamed with the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail to install automated motion detection sensors on the crosswalk signs at the trail’s five road crossings in Acton.

The new sensors detect trail users heading toward the intersections and activate the yellow rectangular rapid-flashing beacons. Read more.
My Turn: Concord gets a rail trail
For the Monitor 6/27/2021
Hurrah! Concord, NH is about to join the ranks of proud cities that have paved rail trails. The city has seen a vast rejuvenation of its downtown and so many other improvements over the past few years, and the addition of the long-awaited rail trail will catapult Concord into premiere destination status. Read more.
ECG Ride from NYC to Philly August 28 and 29.

The East Coast Greenway is hosting a fund-raiser ride from NYC to Philadelphia on the last weekend in August and a friend of mine--or more correctly-- a friend of all trail advocates is riding in it.

Attorney Andrew Fischer is riding in it and he can use our help in raising money on this ride. If you don't know Andrew, he has a long history of representing bicycle and rail trail interests in court cases. Some are very high-profile with significant issues in play. Andrew led the way in writing the Amicus Brief in the recent SJC case of Sudbury vs EFSB. This was done Pro-Bono. It'd be great if you could say thanks by supporting him on this ride. CLICK HERE to go the support page at ECG.

MassDOT is conducting a survey to learn more about why and when Massachusetts residents ride a bike.
Results will inform future planning, policies and projects statewide. Please feel free to distribute!
The survey can be accessed at: tinyurl.com/MassBikeSurvey
Deadline August 19, 2021
NH Rail Trail system offers
380 miles to keep you moving
With 52 trails totaling more than 380 miles, the New Hampshire Rail Trail system offers an exciting way to get outside and explore communities throughout the state.

Rail trails follow the routes of abandoned railroad lines. Renovated stations known as “depots,” remnants of stone bridges and rock cuts provide recreationists with glimpses into the past, when passenger lines and freight trains contributed to the state’s prosperity. Read more.
Governor Baker In Sandwich, Mass Announces $4M Trail Grants
By TAO WOOLFE Cape News 7-23-21

With flags snapping in the wind and seagulls flying overhead, Massachusetts VIPs and bike trail advocates gathered on the sunny southern bank of the Cape Cod Canal in Sandwich.

The occasion was a formal announcement of $4 million in state grant awards to fund 52 outdoor recreational trail projects across the commonwealth.

The governor said the state has noted the tremendous increase in interest for outdoor activities during the coronavirus outbreak—and subsequent lockdown—and hopes to encourage that trend by providing funding for more parks, bike trails and other outdoor venues.

Read more from the official press release from the Governor's Office.
Additional segments of the Rail Trail’s 75% design eyed for 2022

LYNNFIELD — The Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail’s design is continuing to progress, Town Administrator Rob Dolan said during a June 23 episode of “Town Talk.”

The rail trail will begin at the Main Street and Bennett Street intersection in Wakefield near the Galvin Middle School, extend north through Lynnfield and will go to the Peabody line. A portion of the rail trail would go through Reedy Meadow via an elevated boardwalk. The Wakefield component of the trail would be 1.8 miles while Lynnfield’s would be 2.5 miles. Read more. (And we see an agreement nearing between National Grid and the EQLT on a section of the Mass Central Rail Trail. Starting to look like a trend to me. CDP)
LYNNFIELD IS ON THE RIGHT TRAIL LYNNFIELD — The Lynnfield Rail Trail project is alive and well.

“The rail trail is still moving forward and we look forward to it being built in our town,” said Town Administrator Rob Dolan. “Who would have imagined the last two years, but we want to be up front and clear that the rail trail is front and center on the town agenda and our plan is to move as quickly as the state allows us. Read more.
Twin City Rail Trail bridge just installed overnight 7-23-24 over Rt 2 in Leominster, Mass. More later. Here's a link to a Facebook page with dramatic night-time pictures.
A best-kept secret: How 230 miles of hiking trails connect the suburbs of Boston

The Bay Circuit Trail begins and ends with a foot in the ocean.

The path in between travels 230 miles, from Bay Farm on Kingston Bay in Duxbury in the south to the beach at Plum Island in Newbury to the north.

The C-shaped path, conceived in the late-1920s as part of a greenway belt through the region’s expanding suburbs, but took decades to come to life. Read more. RE resources.
OPINION: Still time to rethink the Swampscott rail trail, by Brian T. Watson  
(Here's a letter to the editor suggesting that a walking/biking trail to a transit connection is a bad idea because of climate change complications. CDP)
I have written a number of times about the proposed Swampscott rail trail. That is because we are in an unfolding environmental crisis and we are having difficulty seeing it, understanding it, and identifying the actions required of us in responding to this crisis. I am writing again also because there is still time for the town to avoid making a terrible mistake.
Read more. (I meet people every single week in my real estate practice who don't believe me when I tell them that there really are people out there who don't like the idea of a trail in their neighborhood. That's why I love to post stories like this. CDP)
MBTA and Town of Medfield Sign Medfield Rail Trail Lease
The MassDOT Board has approved a 99-year lease with the Town of Medfield for a 1.3 mile segment of the former Bay Colony Railroad line. Construction of the Rail Trail Scheduled for Summer 2021. The town plans to build a multi-use trail along the unused rail corridor, from Ice House Road to the Dover Town Line. Read more.e.
State Agencies Seek to Transform the Lynnway With New Bike Path and Bus Rapid Transit STREETSBLOG MASS by Christian MiNeil

State agencies and the City of Lynn are planning a dramatic reconfiguration of the Lynnway, a 6- to 7-lane highway between downtown Lynn and Revere Beach, to create a 1.5 mile-long, center-running busway and a shared-use path. Read more.
Interesting, "High-Altitude" Stories From Around the Country and Sometimes Beyond.
After 34 years, the popular Katy Trail across Missouri is finally complete. (I was the keynote speaker a few years ago at the conference for the 25th anniversary. A fun time was had by all. CDP)

Now the trail follows a continuous line from Clinton to Machens near St. Charles, the longest rail-trail in the United States, according to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

The new section runs from Griessen Road to the Katy Trail Depot in Sedalia, replacing a 3.25-mile street route that had been used since 2001.

The Katy Trail, designated as a state park, is now complete, with all of the appropriate rights of way, said Melanie Smith, the Katy Trail coordinator for Missouri State Parks. Read more.
(Imagine that. 34 years to get it done. I have one story in this issue that talks about one community taking 30 years to get underway. We've only begun here in Mass. CDP)
Several hundred residential units proposed along East Boston Greenway

A private developer and two non-profit groups have teamed up on a proposal for 426 residential units in six new buildings along Bremen and Orleans Street, between Maverick and Porter streets.

The proposal, by the Davis Companies of downtown and the East Boston Community Development Corp. and the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, would include 70 "deeply affordable" apartments for people making between 30% and 60% of the Boston area median income. In total, 16.5% of the project's units will be "affordable," compared to the 13% minimum required by the city.” Read more.

(The reason I became a Realtor was to prove to antis that their house near the proposed rail trail was saleable. I am the first Realtor in the US with this niche practice and now I'm proud to say that I'm not alone. 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!