Rail Trail E Newsletter August 2021 #58

Another month with quite a few stories. One important story from is New Haven CT. A short section of the New Haven and Northampton Canal Greenway in downtown New Haven is now under-construction. Then we three great stories from NH. They are hosting their state conference via Zoom.

Several stories from Mass of course and updates about our next Golden Spike Conference. To be held in the old company mill town of Gilbertville. We are mindful of covid and our venue has a capacity of 300 people, but we will cap attendance at 110. It'll be here before you know it.

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
Daily Hampshire Gazette Guest columnist Mary Carey: Forest bathing on the Rail Trail
By MARY CAREY For the Gazette
Published: 8/12/2021

I recently returned to one of my favorite haunts, the portion of the Norwottuck Rail Trail between Amherst and Belchertown, after a five-week trip to Europe in May and June.
Walkers and bikers had shed their masks. The beaver pond was covered with white water lilies, young red squirrels criss-crossed the path along with chipmunks and gray squirrels, and a snapping turtle here and there faced the path as if to cross it later. I had come back full circle to March 2020, when the magnitude of the change that COVID would bring first began to loom. Read More

  • Half-day indoor conference with outdoor tours in the afternoon.
  • Two notable 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.
  • Venue capacity is 300, but we are going to cap our attendance at 110 in-person. We will be masks for the inside events.

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.
$150K Swampscott Rail Trail Donation To Help Design, Completion
The Friends of the Swampscott Rail Trail raised the money through private and business donations.

A $150,000 donation from the Friends of the Swampscott Rail Trail will help the continued design and construction of the trail for pedestrians and bicyclists on the former railroad bed.

The Swampscott Select Board this week voted to accept the gift the community group gathered through private and business donations.
The new Columbia Greenway Rail Trail bridge at Main Street.

WESTFIELD – The two riders pulled their bikes to a halt and peered through the chain link fence at the steel and concrete bridge on the other side. They were disappointed that the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail ended at Main Street, but are anxious for the new downtown section to open. Read more.
Our bed & breakfast, Sugar Maple Trailside Inn that sits 8' from the rail trail, was was featured on a site about local businesses. Our 20th anniversary of being here is coming up. As the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun.
Construction started on the Farmington Canal Trail in New Haven by: Kent Pierce
It spans 84 miles from Massachusetts to New Haven, and soon the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail will be two blocks longer.

For years now, anyone walking, jogging, or biking on the Farmington Canal trail in New Haven has gotten as far as Temple Street and had to stop at the metal bars, but that is about to change.

Workers for C. J. Fucci Construction have only just begun, but already you can see the difference in the trench of the old canal between Whitney and Orange Streets. CLICK HERE
Auburn, Maine considers getting on board with a plan to connect a rail trail to Portland

AUBURN – There is “growing momentum” in the area to create a rail trail that would extend along an unused section of track that stretches from Auburn to Portland.

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque said this week that he expects many people “will love to hike and bike and walk” along the corridor.

The unused rail line stretching from Danville Junction in Auburn to Portland’s East End is state-owned. The St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad’s lease to the line expires this year. That leaves officials with the option to do something with the property. Read More.
COVID sparked a bike boom across America, but a new study of one Virginia city shows that communities who prioritized building protected bike paths saved the most lives – and would have done so with or without the virus.

In a report released recently, researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety dug into the nuances of America’s (still-ongoing) pandemic-era bike boom by scrutinizing the spatial and temporal distribution of pre- and post-lockdown bicycle trip counts and crash counts in the city of Arlington. Read more.
How a 21-mile rail trail holds the key to happiness, health, and prosperity for Manchester, NH residents Sunday, August 22, By Jason Soukup MANCHESTER

Currently, the Granite State Rail Trail, an almost contiguous 125-mile rail-trail that runs diagonally across New Hampshire from the Northwest corner to Salem with a 21-mile gap that excludes Manchester residents from enjoying the health and social benefits and increased economic activity that a rail trail will bring to the community. This 21-miles of little-used rail line can be converted to an active transportation corridor, a shared-use trail used for jogging, walking, and biking.

Unequivocally, both regional and city planning documents have confirmed that a rail with trail along the Merrimack River is the best path through Manchester.

Yet Manchester residents and the wider Manchester economy are still cut out of the opportunities of their rightful place on the rail trail.
Metro West, an area just west of Boston, has lots of exciting projects nearing completion. They recently had an event geared towards talking about the next steps. Read more
Explore the Coastal Trails Network on the North Shore
By Rosalyn Impink Correspondent Aug 14, 2021

Though summer may be drawing to a close, the North Shore continues to offer recreation opportunities beyond beaches and camping. If you’re looking to get up to the coast for sea breezes and exercise, seek out the area’s im­pressive network of paved trails for walking and biking.

The Coastal Trails Network is made up of more than 20 miles of multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trails crossing through Amesbury, Newbury, New­buryport, and Salisbury. Read more.
After months of planning, NHRTC is pleased to announce that tickets for our October 16 Statewide Rail Trails Conference are now available. We have an exciting agenda to share and very knowledgeable speakers to address a wide range of useful topics.

Please CLICK HERE to view the event invitation letter from NHRTC Vice President and NH Rail Trails book author Charles Martin. (Yes, the same Charles Martin who was one of the early advocates in the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail effort when he lived in Concord, MA, about 20 years ago. CDP)

Our event flyer CLICK HERE provides an overview of topics to be covered in the two-part Zoom session.
Community Compass: Exciting steps forward on Merrymeeting Trail in Maine. The proposal to create a multi-use trail connecting Augusta to Brunswick is at a critical juncture.

You may have heard about the Merrymeeting Trail, a 26-mile multi-use trail that would join the Kennebec River Rail Trail in the north to the Androscoggin River Bicycle and Pedestrian Path in the south, linking Augusta to Brunswick (and one day to Bath!) in an incredible “capital to coast” connection.

For over a decade, towns and volunteers along the route have worked to make this vision for connected communities a reality. It’s exciting to see that their efforts are bearing fruit. Read more.
State Rail Trail Plan update underway
NH State Rail Trail Plan update underway

GORHAM — The N.H. DOT is updating its 2005 State Rail Trail Plan.

The New Hampshire Rail Trail system has more than 360 miles of recreational trails including one section in Carroll County. The Cotton Valley Rail Trail is 12 miles long and begins at Depot Street in Wolfeboro and ends at Turntable Park in Wakefield.

There are also two sections in Coos County. Running from Gorham to Cherry Pond in Whitefield is the 18-mile Presidential Rail Trail which goes through the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and provides great views of the Presidential Mountain range. Read more.
Representative Trahan talks Track Road support in Stow

 “This one is near and dear to my heart,” Congresswoman Lori Trahan said of proposed legislation that would help tie Stow’s Track Road into the Assabet River Rail Trail (ARRT). She was speaking on Aug. 5 at the Community Center to about 25 officials and supporters from Stow and surrounding towns of how refurbishing the unpaved Track Road would benefit many. Trahan said her family is among those who use the regional rail trails frequently. Read more. (btw, Track Road is actually the RoW of the B&M RR's Marlborough Branch which is mostly built out now as the beautiful Assabet River Rail Trail. CDP)
Interesting, "High-Altitude" Stories From Around the Country and Sometimes Beyond.
Developer Plans to Transform Abandoned Kansas City Rail Bridge Into a 'Destination'
August 26, 2021 James Leggate

A project in Kansas City is drawing comparisons to New York City’s High Line and the Chicago Riverwalk.

Developer Flying Truss, LLC, is planning to redevelop the Rock Island Bridge, a disused early 20th century steel truss railroad bridge, into what it calls a “destination landmark bridge.” Read more. (We should do this sort of a project in downtown Northampton on one of the extra RR bridges over Rt 9. CDP)
Decades-long private encroachment along Burke-Gilman Trail finally cleared to make small lakeside park
August 24, 2021 by Tom Fucoloro

For decades, a small public space along the Burke-Gilman Trail just north of the Seattle city limit has been hidden behind a private fence. But no more.

It took a remarkable amount of work to open this small space. Volunteers on a county advisory committee learned about the illegal fence and other private structures a decade ago Those volunteers — including Stuart Strand, who alerted me to the project and sent the photos — urged the county to take action to reclaim the space, resulting in a court battle that ultimately went in King County’s favor. 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.
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!