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

First up, some sad news. Tom Kelleher, the Treasurer of Norwottuck Network, and cartographer of rail trails in Mass. passed away unexpectedly on 12-31-22. We have his obituary in this newsletter below. His map of the MCRT is currently down, and his family is sorting out his estate. We are expecting to get that resource running again. All of us at NN, and other veterans in the rail trail world are very sad.

Our big, notable report about the impact of a completed MCR isn't finished yet but we have a couple bits of data seen below that you'll enjoy.

Also the word "PAIRS" as in pairs of stories is the operational word in this issue.
  • A Pair of stories about Visionary Projects in NY.
  • A Pair about Springfield--in the orange area--a high altitude, high-impact, fast-tracking of the curing of an epidemic crashes involving bikes and peds.
  • A Pair about Covered RR Bridges in NH and VT. (Yes Kathy, there is such a thing as Covered RR Bridges and five are still standing in NH and VT)
  • A Pair of op-ed pieces about the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, that were written 15+ years apart and tied with a pair of contemporary stories about some of the background happenings in anticipation of the opening of the nearly 100 mile trail.

And I think we are in new and strange times. The recently opened Twin City Rail Trail in both Leominster and Fitchburg has begun to plow the trail. Typically, plowing was usually a 15+ year time frame to get interest in that. Welcome to the 21st century.

Anyway, Spring is only a few weeks away.


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
Sadly, we have to report that our friend, Tom Kelleher suddenly and unexpectedly passed away on New Years' Eve day. He was the Treasurer of Norwottuck Network and the President of the Assabet River Rail Trail. But he was also the principal at TKMaps where he had developed an extensive inventory of live scalable Google maps of all the open and proposed rail trails in Mass. With his passing we all have lost a lot. Some of the inventory of maps are currently off line, but as soon as his family sorts out his estate, we have a new cartographer on standby and as soon as we get the greenlight we'll let everyone know. Click here to read the obituary.
Lawsuit Over Sudbury Eversource, Rail Trail Project Dismissed By Judge
But a legal fight that dates to 2016 over the Eversource project — and a connected MA Central Rail Trail extension — is not over. Neal McNamara, Patch Staff 1-23-23

SUDBURY, MA — A state Land Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a group of local landowners trying to stop an Eversource transmission line project — which also includes an extension of the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail linked — but the legal battleground may only be shifting. Read more.
The big report that our consultant--Kittelson & Associates is working on-- is still under-development, but we have some info that'll be of interest.

1.6 million people (23%) live within 1 mile of a completed MCRT and connecting trails.
4.4 million (64%) within 10 miles
4.1 million and 5.5 million visits, including 120k to 390k overnight visits

Download the slide.

Here's a link to the RFP we sent out to firms all over the U.S.

Stay tuned for the finished report.
Steven Hawk, a resident of Ware, and after a severe car crash almost 20 years ago, he is now a quadriplegic. He lives near the rail trail and uses it often with his motorized wheelchair to access stores in his neighborhood.

The Town of Ware is building a kiosk dedicated to Steven and his efforts to call out the benefits of the trail and his advocacy at large. When the town schedules the ribbon-cutting for the kiosk, we'll let everyone know. Read more.
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.
Here's an essay I was asked to write for a regional magazine about a few topics related to rail trails and living next to one. Read more
Leominster and Fitchburg’s New Rail-Trail Gets Creative With Winter Maintenance
By Grecia White 1-27-23 STREETSBLOG MASS
One trail advocacy group in central Massachusetts is experimenting with an unconventional mix of funding to keep their new trail as free of snow as possible. Read more.
Steve Jobs once said;
An op-ed piece I wrote in 2003, for the Hardwick, VT Newspaper, that talked about why the railroad wasn't economically viable anymore and why it needed to become a trail. Read more
An op-ed piece written by Atty. Hans Huessy in the Stowe, VT newspaper, 15+ years later, in 2019 and the trail still wasn't built. But after this essay came out, the state finally got serious and started to focus on building out the trail. It going to open this year. Around 50 miles in only four years. Almost Empire State Trail build-out speed. Read more.
Now, I don't want to suggest it was merely, a couple of long-winded essays that got this built; no, it was thousands and thousands of hours of advocacy. Long meetings. State wide conferences in several realms. A full-court-press as they say, but all loooong trails have a loooong gestation period that has a raft of twists and turns and you never know what is around the corner. Just don't tell my friends in the Northeast Kingdom, that the MCRT at 104 miles, is longer than the LVRT at 96 miles. ; )

But we are only a few years behind the LVRT
And below are a couple of recent stories on Vermont Public Radio on the impact of the coming Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.

And it is not even fully built-out yet.
As the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail nears completion, northern Vt. towns prepare for tourists
Vermont Public | By Paige Fisher
On a recent Friday, Laurel Ruggles stands on a section of what used to be the Lamoille Valley Rail Line from St. Johnsbury to Swanton. Read or listen to more
Maine State council backs the creation of a new rail trail between Auburn and Portland
Maine Public | By Carol Bousquet
The state’s Portland to Auburn Rail Use Advisory Council this month voted to recommend that 26.5 miles of the state-owned rail corridor from Portland to Auburn be converted to an interim bike and pedestrian trail. Seven of 13 council members approve of the move and 86% of 700 public comments were supportive of a trail. Read more.
Revival: The Story of the Minuteman Bikeway
Here's something you'll love. I stumbled into this video on the Charles River Wheelmen website. An 18 minute video of how the Minuteman Bikeway got built. It wasn't easy. Filled with personal remembrances by lots of my friends. So heart warming. This was done in 2018, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the trail opening. Start the video
Here's where the well loved Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is heading next in Pittsfield By Meg Britton-Mehlisch, The Berkshire Eagle Jan 26, 2023
PITTSFIELD — The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail will roll along a little farther into Pittsfield this year.
City leaders say they hope to see state contractors push the trail about a half mile west from its resting place at Dalton Avenue down Merrill Road sometime this summer. Read More

Schumer Launches Major Push For New Funding
YONKERS – Standing at the abandoned old Putnam Railroad’s former Lowerre Station alongside advocates that worked tirelessly to transform it into the Yonkers Greenway Park, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer Friday announced his major new push to deliver over $5.4 million to the City of Yonkers. Read more
A couple of stories about interesting
rail trail things in NH and VT
Five Covered RR Bridges are still standing on some rail trails in VT and NH. Read more
And here is Tim Blagden and his wife and daughter on the Concord & Lake Sunapee Rail Trail in NH.
Tim and his organization are piecing together the old Claremont & Concord RR into a year round trail. btw, the C&C RR and the Lamoille Valley line in VT were both Pinsly RR Co lines. The company I used to work for.CDP Read more Also, one of the covered bridges noted in the story to the left is on Tim's trail. Contoocook Covered RR bridge. Take a trip there this year.
Here's the next visionary projects in New York
Long Island Greenway May Roll Through South Fork: 175-mile route would be like Empire State Trail
By Tom Gogola East Hampton Star
February 9, 2023
The East Hampton Town Board heard from Carter Strickland of the Trust for Public Land on Tuesday as the organization, working with Suffolk County, moves forward on an ambitious and long-desired plan for a Long Island Greenway that could eventually bless bicyclists with 175 miles of Island-spanning trails, from Manhattan to Montauk. Read more
The Open Space Institute unveils Ambitious Growing Greenways Plan by Erin Quinn 2-10-23 HUDSON VALLEY ONE

The Open Space Institute (OSI) has unveiled a plan so vast and green that, when fully implemented, it would connect more than 20 communities in three counties (Ulster, Sullivan and Orange) through 250 miles of interconnected multiuse trails. Read more (This is an important story to follow. The MCRT project and its interconnecting network of trails and greenways is going to be even more impactful. We'll be seeing more and more of these projects in the northeast. CDP)
Interesting, "High-Altitude" Stories From Around the Country and Sometimes Beyond.
Two stories below are by StreetsBlog Mass and are about lots of people getting killed while walking or biking in Springfield. First story to the left is from 2021 and the right story from a few days ago when the Federal Government came in with a grant to quickly do improvements for safer streets.
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
City of Springfield Wins $15 Million to Improve Street Safety Citywide By Christian MilNeil 2-1-23 StreetsBlog Mass

A new federal grant program that was created under the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will award $15 million to the City of Springfield to improve safety on 10 high-traffic streets and at 15 intersections across the city.

The funding will come from the new federal Safe Streets and Roads for All discretionary grant program, which was established with $5 billion in funding over a 5-year period in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 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.
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!