Rail Trail Newsletter 11-2020 #50

Here it is! Finally, we were notified this afternoon that MassDOT released the feasibility study of the Mass Central Rail Trail. YAY! I hope all will sign-on and participate in all the meetings available for this important project.

Also, you'll notice some layout changes here. We are evolving this newsletter to have larger font and only be two stories wide--not three. Fewer stories means that we'll be doing this newsletter twice a month, and not the monthly format we had had been doing for the past 4+ years.

In the next issue, in mid-November we should be fully all set w the new format.

Stay tuned.

Craig Della Penna, Exec. Director
Norwottuck Network
62 Chestnut St. Northampton, MA 01062
413 575 2277 CraigDP413@gmail.com

In the GREEN area, news about

the Mass Central Rail Trail
and its connecting paths
On behalf of the MassTrails Team, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has completed a feasibility study of the 68.5 mile mid-state section of the Mass Central Rail Trail (MCRT) between Belchertown and Hudson. The vision for the MCRT is to convert as much of the original 104-mile rail corridor as possible to an east-west, off-road, shared use path/greenway connecting Northampton to Boston. 

Please use the following link to access more information on the Study: https://www.mass.gov/mass-central-rail-trail-feasibility-study 

The draft report of the Study is now available for public comment until December 1, 2020. All feedback is welcome. Please use this link to learn more about the Study, view an interactive map, and submit a comment or question. 

Also, the MassDOT Moving Together Conference will be a virtual conference this year and will be FREE! The consultant and lead agency folks on this Feasibility Study will leading a great presentation about this. LINK HERE Date: 11/17/2020 7:45 AM - 11/19/2020 12:30 PM

This old abandoned train tunnel in Clinton could soon become the crowning jewel of the Mass. Central Rail Trail

Tom Matthews
Mass Live

Take a drive along Route 70 in Clinton past the Wachusett Dam and you could easily miss a section where the road widens just a little to allow room for a few cars to pull over and park. But if you look closely amidst the overgrown brush, you might notice a hidden path that climbs up a small hill.

At the top, you’ll find two large graffiti-covered granite walls protruding from the side of a hill. They flank a dark, mysterious tunnel that seems to go on forever before revealing a pinprick of light at the end. You are standing at a junction of history and the future.

In the most complicated stretch of the Green Line Transit extension in Somerville, cyclists will rise above it all on the Mass. Central Rail Trail

By Adam Vaccaro
Boston Globe
September 28, 2020,

SOMERVILLE — Right now, this industrial strip in the Inner Belt district is a thicket of concrete pillars, steel beams, ramps, and half-finished viaducts. But in a little more than a year, these elevated tracks will finally carry MBTA trolley riders, the conclusion of the decades-long effort to extend the Green Line north into Medford.

And another group of travelers, these of the two-wheeled variety, will get their own long-awaited skyline cruise, as well, on a viaduct serving as the final link in a nearly 15-mile stretch that will let cyclists and pedestrians traverse between downtown Boston and as far away as the northern end of the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway in Bedford — almost always separated from car traffic. (oops this should say, as far away as Northampton CDP)
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.
Steady progress on popular new Ulster County rail trails which will link to NYC

Daniel Axelrod
Times Herald-Record

NEW PALTZ – Popular efforts to convert former rail lines into biking and hiking trails, across Ulster County and the state, are making steady progress near New Paltz.

A trio of nonprofits, the Open Space Institute, the Wallkill Valley Land Trust and the Hudson River Valley Greenway, are a month away from finishing a $1.5 million project to improve the northern 9.5-mile stretch of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, Open Space Institute leaders said on Tuesday. Read more
Swampscott Rail Trail work
continues in early November

William J. Dowd
Wicked Local Swampscott

Swampscott will soon begin the second segment of the protracted Swampscott Rail Trail construction project with state-grant money, town officials said over the phone on Tuesday afternoon.

The news arrives four month after the town completed the first segment, which runs from Beach Bluff to the Marblehead Line, connecting the neighboring town’s rail trail with Swampscott’s. A split-rail wooden fence lines the flat, nearly 600-foot segment.

Swampscott will now execute and add a second segment roughly 625 feet with funding largely from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Shared Streets & Spaces Emergency Grant Program.
Cape Cod Rail Trail extension moves into third phase

Christine Legere
Cape Cod Times
SOUTH YARMOUTH — The third phase of the Cape Cod Rail Trail extension, bringing the bike path westward across the Yarmouth line and into Barnstable, is now at the 25% design phase.

State officials are once again looking for public input.

The state Department of Transportation will post a webinar on its website beginning Friday, Oct. 9, and the public will have until Oct. 23 to submit their comments. Read more.
Going places: NYS’s Empire State Trail comes together: Biking the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in Hudson Valley
By Karen Rubin
The Island Now

The ambitious New York Empire State Trail is taking shape, linking and connecting and improving existing trails for a 750-mile network that will enable bikers, hikers, recreational users go from New York City to the Canadian border, and from Buffalo to Albany. And it seems like it is on track for completion by the end of the year, when it would become the longest multi-use state trail in the nation.
Town of Dighton

DIGHTON — Town Administrator Mallory Aronstein and the Dighton Trails Committee are pleased to share an update regarding the committee’s ongoing planned initiatives.
The Dighton Trails Committee was established in 2018 and consists of five volunteers: Jeff Carvalho, Rachel Conti, Rachel Beagan, Karen Alves and Bob Baglini.
The committee’s vision is to build multimodal trail infrastructure in Dighton that will integrate with the existing South Coast

The South Coast Bikeway will be a 50-mile continuous system of bike paths (or multi-use paths) and bike lanes that will connect Rhode Island to Cape Cod.
Press release from Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection:

Oct. 5, 2020

The Connecticut Greenways Council (CGC) will hold its 21st Annual CT Greenway Awards on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. at the Rotary Pavilion in Charter Oak Park in Manchester. The event will celebrate the Charter Oak Greenway, Manchester's Charter Oak Park, and the Community of Manchester, CT.

The CGC consists of members appointed by the Governor and the leaders of the General Assembly. Their duties include advising and assisting in the coordination of state agencies, municipalities, regional planning organizations and private citizens in voluntarily planning and implementing a system of greenways.

History Abounds on the Rail Trail
August 15, 2020
Ken Henderson
Holliston Reporter

Whether it’s a history scavenger hunt or random discovery, our Rail Trail is as historic as it is relaxing to walk, jog and ride. The history of Holliston that grew up along the former railroad has been around a while. Hoping to show “what was here” in years past prompted the idea to create and install interpretive signs. With the 8-arch stone bridge restoration finished and momentum to do more, a few volunteers decided to tell some of the history of the various parts of town along the old rail bed.

Mary Greendale authored much of the text and collected the materials used in the displays, some of which Robert Weidneckt had assembled over the years in developing the Trail.
State Grants Give Green Light to ‘Pawtucket Greenway’ in Lowell, Massachusetts

By Ed Brennen
UMass Lowell News

Thanks to a pair of recent state grants, students, faculty and staff are closer to having a protected, shared-use path when walking or bicycling along Pawtucket Street between South and East campuses.

The “Pawtucket Greenway,” a collaboration between UMass Lowell and the City of Lowell, is one of three pilot projects being implemented with a $165,755 grant the city received from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) Shared Streets and Spaces program.

The university, meanwhile, received a $57,000 MassTrails grant from the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to begin designs for connecting the Pawtucket Greenway to Lowell’s existing network of paths and trails. Read more.
Here's some great

Richard Williamson, of Farmstead Lane, Sudbury
Fortunate in Belchertown
The one place people are flocking to during this corona virus crisis are open spaces. These areas such as conservation areas, parks, hiking and biking trails are full of people getting critical exercise, peace of mind and enjoying the foliage. In these difficult times it is great to be able to get outdoors and social distance in a safe and peaceful manner. Mother nature is a great nurturer!
Greenway investment is a good way to connect with nature, spur the economic recovery and improve public health. Read more
Interesting and Pertinent Stories From Around the Country and Sometimes Beyond.
Proof: Bike Paths are Good for the Local Economy
By Gersh Kuntzman
Oct 15, 2020

he bean counters have spoken: A safe network of protected bike lanes is good for the urban economy.

Completion of the long-sought 35-mile Baltimore Greenway Trails Network would create jobs, improve property values, reduce vehicle miles traveled, create new business activity surrounding the trail and just be better for the air, according to a new report to be released today by the accounting firm Ernst and Young.

And the green visors even put price tags on the benefits of spending an estimated $28 million to complete the last 10 miles of the project (see map. Read more.
Slow map: Mapping Britain's intercity footpaths
By David Sillito
Media and Arts Correspondent

We live in a time when our phones will show us the quickest route to almost anywhere - if we are driving, that is. Walking? Well, that's a different matter.

Geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison is offering a solution; a new map created by volunteers during lockdown to show the best walking routes between all of Britain's main towns.

All that is needed now is 10,000 keen walkers to test out the routes on his "slow map".

Part of the government's official transport advice during the pandemic has been "walk, if you can". It is good for keeping down both infection and congestion. It is also good for our health. Read more.

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.
One page bio
of what I do
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