Rail Trail e-Newsletter February 2023 #75
Hello all,

First of all, SAVE THE DATE for Saturday, October 14, 2023. Golden Spike 2023 (GS2023.org) will be held at the AmVets facility at 79 Superior Dr in Natick, MA. Right on the shore of Lake Cochituate and adjacent to the Cochituate Rail Trail. This will be a full day conference with speakers, an inspirational keynote speaker at lunch and a host of both walking/biking tours of trails in the Metro-West area.

We, NN, will be doing a Golden Spike Conference every odd, numbered year and MassTrails will be doing their conference on the even numbered years.

For the Natick conference, we are looking to put together a team of local trail leaders in the Natick, Framingham, Sudbury, Wayland area, who would be interested in helping to develop the walking/biking tours in the area. If you are interested--or know someone else who might be, please contact me at CraigDP413@gmail.com. I'd like to schedule a meeting asap to nail down the tours, who will be leading, maps, themes etc. etc.

In this issue we have some interesting items related to the MCRT. Construction underway in 3 sections in the metro-west area. We have a new fellow, Danny Noenickx coming on to continue the mapping work that Tom Kelleher was doing.

Our report about what a completed MCRT will mean to the Commonwealth is still a few weeks away, but when it does launch, we are planning a big splash to the media--all over the region. Stay tuned for that.


Craig Della Penna, President of the Board
Norwottuck Network, Inc.
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
Here are 2 stories about construction on the MCRT's Wayside section
MBTA Seeks Dismissal Of Lawsuit That Could Stall Mass Central Rail Trail
Two Hudson-based companies are suing the transit agency in a bid to stop an Eversource project. Neal McNamara, Patch Staff Mar 9, 2023
HUDSON, MA — The MBTA wants a state Land Court judge to dismiss a lawsuit that could prevent Eversource from moving forward with a plan to bury power lines under an old rail corridor in Hudson and Sudbury — and that would later become a new section of the Mass Central Rail Trail.

The case is part of a long-running legal battle helmed by the group Protect Sudbury, which has been attempting to stop the Eversource project with various legal maneuvers in recent years. Read more.
3 Major MetroWest Trail Projects Are Under Construction In 2023 By Christian MilNeil

Three major segments of the Bruce Freeman and Mass. Central Rail Trails are currently under construction in the suburbs west of Boston, and when these projects are complete, the two trail networks will be connected with each other for the first time.

Here’s a rundown of the three construction projects that are happening now, plus three design and planning projects that will fill in missing gaps between them. Read more.




Our interactive MCRT map is coming back to life.
NN has brought on a new board member, Danny Noenickx of Boston, an experienced tech fellow and he is beginning to develop a scalable map of the MCRT and will be beefing up the NN site too. Inch-by-inch. Check it out

May 9: Preservation Mass Presentation about the MCRT.

October 14: Golden Spike 2023

Some of these sites are not yet quite fully developed. Stay tuned.
Our report about the MCRT will out in a few weeks, but the recent report seen below here will be a part of the upcoming campaign to shine a light on the importance of developing the MCRT network.
Just before the Pandemic, MassTrails commissioned a report on four trails in Massachusetts and the benefits and impacts they are producing at a local level, even though the are relatively short or in one case, relatively new. The report in it entirety--all 116 pages is linked here.

But just below, is a link to a 8-page Executive Summary that does a deep-dive with illustrative and contemporary infographics on impacts in the areas of Economic, Health, Transportation, Environmental, Accessibility and Equity

The interesting thing about this 8-pager is that 3 of the 4 trails in the report are a part of, or connect directly with a completed Mass Central Rail Trail. And as I said, this will be a part of the overall campaign about the Economic Impact of the MCRT.
SAVE THE DATE!! Our 9th GOLDEN SPIKE CONFERENCE will be held on Saturday 10-14-23 at the AmVets facility at 79 Superior Dr. Natick. Right between the Cochituate Rail Trail and Cochituate Lake State Park. A draft website is at: GS2023.org More info including speakers, tours and how to register will be set up soon.
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's a link to a two-page infographic about the history of the MCRT

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. updated info.
Clinton Tunnel: Link here to a story on WBZ Boston TV about the tunnel.
Wachusett Greenways: Link here.
Wachusett Greenways Facebook page with a link to their E-newsletter: 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.
LYNN/NAHANT BIKE LANES MAPPED OUT by Anthony Cammalleri March 17 Lynn Item
North Shore cyclists might soon be able to ride their bikes through downtown Lynn to Nahant on a two-lane bike path separated from the road.
Public officials from Lynn and Nahant met Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) representatives to discuss the Northern Strand Expansion project. (Looks like the Bike to the Sea project is about actually going to be at the ocean soon. And more investment in a Gateway City.) Read more
Westfield City Council asked to sign letter joining the 81- mile rail trail Mar. 07, 2023 By Amy Porter | The Westfield News
At their March 1 meeting, Christy Bannish, chair of Friends of the Southwick Rail Trail, asked the Westfield City Council to sign a letter endorsing and acknowledging the New Haven & Northampton Canal Greenway.  Read more.
Bike Path Boardwalk Opening Soon March 16, 2023 Wanderers
      The Mattapoisett Bike Path has been a work in process for decades, involving numerous town officials, department heads and an equal or greater number of volunteers. So when the construction of the heralded Phase 1b featuring a lengthy, raised boardwalk traversing scenic wetlands and coastal beaches at last began, a collective “hurray” rang out from the Fairhaven-to-Marion boundaries. But the rejoicing was short lived. The boardwalk crossing the Eel Pond breach and skirting the Good Speed Island beach would be delayed for over a year. Read more
Legislative Budget writers back NH DOT in Derry rail trail dispute
Kevin Landrigan, The Union Leader March 19—CONCORD — House budget writers are siding with the Department of Transportation and against a coalition of residents and recreation activists who oppose the cost-saving design for a rail trail in Derry to become part of a new Exit 4A off Interstate 93. Read more.
Officials on Cape Cod Now Open To Removing Rail Line For Bike Path By MICHAEL J. RAUSCH 3-10-23 Bourne News

State and local officials this week expressed confidence that train tracks leading to Joint Base Cape Cod can be removed to make way for the proposed bike path extension from North Falmouth to the Cape Cod Canal, something these same officials have said would never happen.

The change of heart stems from negotiations with base officials regarding relocation of the rail line now leading to the military base.
Read more. (Every time I read about the twists-and-turns of this project, I'm more and more stunned. It looks like no one has told the folks on Cape Cod this oddity. There are two Reserve Airbases in Mass where rail spurs came into the facility. One was where one of the longest runways in the eastern U.S. Where the heaviest lifting aircraft in the air force inventory is still based and operational. With heavy-lifting C-5 aircraft there, you'd think that would be the one with rail service right? Well you'd be wrong. Read more here. Can someone getting this newsletter please tell friends on Cape Cod that they are missing key info. CDP)
UNPAVED TRAILS FOR ALL. Most good ideas in the U.S. started in Mass. If you do a deep-dive on where in the state they originated, you'll discover that many originated in the CT River Valley. Like this idea. Check this out. Gaining traction now in the state house too. Read more.
Northfield seeks $12.5M federal grant to replace Schell Bridge 3/3/2023 By DOMENIC POLI
Staff Writer Greenfield Recorder
NORTHFIELD — The town partnered with the state Department of Transportation and WSP Consultants to apply for a federal grant to help replace the Schell Bridge.

MassDOT has requested $12.5 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program for the bridge that was closed in 1985. Read more.
Keeping the Cochituate Rail Trail in Natick tidy
March 15, 2023 by Bob Brown
I multitasked on Saturday morning, going for a run along the Cochituate Rail Trail and snapping photos of volunteers who were picking up too much trash along the trail.

Thanks to members of the Veteran’s Committee from MAS Building and Bridge, the primary contractor for the Cochituate Rail Trail, and Natick residents who volunteered for the cleanup on a raw Saturday morning. Read more.
Interesting, "High-Altitude" Stories From Around the Country and Sometimes Beyond.
Left story below is a repeat from last month when it had an incorrect link. We've fixed it now. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Vigil for Crash Victims Amplifies Need for Safer Streets in Springfield By Christian MilNeil from November '21 StreetsBlog Mass.

Activists from WalkBike Springfield laid out 39 pairs of yellow-painted shoes on the library’s steps to represent each of the victims who have been killed in the city since the beginning of 2020, and invited friends and family members to remember their loved ones. Read more
The automobile has been a fixture of urban life for more than a century.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic. Congested streets turned into pedestrian safe havens.

Now many want to make those changes permanent — but it won’t happen without a fight. Read more.
Chicopee suffers third fatal pedestrian accident on one Chicopee Street since November. See above for story about him and his family.
Read more about the numerous pedestrian deaths in the past year in Chicopee. 11 deaths in 2022 alone.

And the story gets weirder. After 10 years of planning and numerous meetings before skeptical neighbors, a 2+ mile long path along the CT River was built and is open in the Willimansett section of Chicopee. The project isn't widely known because the city has never held a formal ribbon-cutting. Imagine that.

I'm not suggesting that people would be alive if a ribbon-cutting was held, but changing a culture of a city to be more bike and ped friendly should start with a recognition that projects that are built to completion should be touted and highlighted.

Go check it out. Google: Nash Field in Chicopee.

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.
Here's Podcasts I've been on.
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!