2020 Rail Trail Recap
Our sincerest wish for health and happiness for you, your friends and families in 2021. With so much upheaval in 2020, we hope this year brings renewal and peace of mind.
Thanks to all your help and support we continue to make progress on the rail trail. Here's our town-by-town news:
The Medfield Rail Trail is closer to reality, with construction expected to begin in the spring of 2021.
In August of this year, the Town of Medfield was awarded a second grant of $100,000 by the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation’s MassTrails Program. Together with the first grant of $100,000 awarded in 2018 and almost $80,000 raised from supporters, the total amount raised for the Trail provides the funds necessary to complete construction of the main elements of the Rail Trail (remove rails and ties, install and grade a gravel subsurface, construct safety railings, and install the stone dust surface).
In October, the Medfield Board of Selectmen authorized the Town Administrator to sign the lease with the MBTA for the Medfield Rail Trail once the required environmental liability insurance is purchased. In November, the Town approved our recommendation for which insurance to obtain and the Medfield Conservation Commission approved our plans.
There are a few major milestones to complete, including executing the lease with the MBTA, and conducting the bidding process for trail construction.
Our fundraising efforts are continuing so that we can begin to plan for trail amenities, such as signage and benches, visual barriers, and ongoing trail maintenance.
After years of work, we are so excited to finally be on the verge of constructing the Trail.
We’ve also had good news in Needham as the Town has stepped up to build the Fisher St. Trailhead next summer, using internal DPW resources with a little external funding from the Needham Community Preservation Committee (which administers Community Preservation Act funding). We recently submitted an Initial Project Eligibility Project Application from BCRTA and the Town Manager to the CPC for a $15,000 grant (informed by the Town Engineer for purchasing various materials) for the Trailhead project. We passed the first hurdle of eligibility and are awaiting questions from the Committee.
Earlier this year the Town engaged a consultant to complete a feasibility study for extending the Needham Rail Trail from its current terminus near west of High Rock Street to Chestnut Street (Needham Junction) in Needham. The new section of trail would provide a key connection from the existing trail to Chestnut Street and the Needham Junction commuter rail station. The study lays out four concept-level alternative plans for the extension, all of which meet ADA guidelines and intersect Chestnut Street at 90 degrees, south of the railroad bridge. The study is currently under review by the Town and BCRTA.
The Upper Falls Greenway in Newton continues to improve, with new connections to neighboring pathways and streets upcoming! The City has been awarded state grants to conduct pending feasibility and design studies beginning this spring on two extensions to improve pedestrian and bicycle access. The northern Greenway extension study would reach out to Curtis Street, allowing an easier walk to the MBTA Newton Highlands station and safer access avoiding a busy intersection. To the south, a Greenway spur would extend over a rehabilitated bridge from Christina Street over the Charles River to the DCR trails and into Needham. The spur would be part of the Northland development, and the bridge study is pending.
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