It is the intention of the Selectmen, in creating a Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee (RTCAC), to provide a mechanism for the Town to examine the conversion of an existing unused rail line in Sudbury to a recreational path and alternative transportation corridor. The Selectmen are committed to developing an overall project and vision for this rail trail conversion that can be supported by the entire community and are looking to this committee to help identify and address the many questions and concerns that residents of Sudbury may have about this project, as well as support the efforts of Town staff as they begin the technical process of studying the feasibility of such a rail trail conversion.
Click here to download the mission statement, responsibilities, and timetable for the Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee.
|Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee - Mission Statement||Mission statement for the Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee as amended by the Board of Selectmen on September 21, 2011.||September 23, 2011
|Wildlife Study #2 Map||This is the map prepared by Sue Morse to accompany the comprehensive Wildlife Study #2 of the proposed Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.||August 17, 2011
|WILDLIFE STUDY #2 of proposed Bruce Freeman Rail Trail||A comprehensive Wildlife Study was completed with private funding to augment the Call of the Wild Study done by the Town of Sudbury in 2009. This new Wildlife Study, done by internationally acclaimed wildlife expert, Sue Morse, details existing wildlife and habitats along the proposed trail and the impacts that are likely to occur with trail construction. Scientific literature is cited throughout the document.||September 9, 2011
|RTAC - Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Environmental & Engineering Presentation - June 15, 2006||June 21, 2006
|RTCAC - PowerPoint Presentation (September 14, 2006)||-The following topics were discussed:
-Where is the rail ROW under consideration?
-What is the process for converting the ROW?
-What were the results of the Trail Neighbors survey of 2005?
-What can we learn from studies of other trails?
|October 17, 2006
|Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Environmental & Engineering Final Assessment Report||The goal of this Assessment was to determine the feasibility of developing a rail trail along the corridor in accordance with the MassHighway Project Development & Design Guide (2006). Under this scenario, the trail would be designed and constructed using a combination of local (10%), state (10%) and federal (80%) funds. Other options under consideration by the Town include a No-Build alternative or a Town Design/Build alternative.||January 5, 2007
|Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Environmental & Engineering Final Assessment Report Appendices||January 5, 2007
|Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Four Season Wildlife Habitat Evaluation||November 23, 2009
|Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Four Season Wildlife Study RFP||May 3, 2011
|Bruce Freeman Rail Trail PPIF 2008 Sudbury||September 29, 2009
|Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Survey Results Available||May 3, 2011
|Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Title Search Letter||Sudbury Town Counsel's opinion on the title review regarding the proposed rail trail. This review was requested by Article 22 at Sudbury Annual Town Meeting in 2007.||December 31, 2010
|Bruce N. Freeman Memorial Bicycle Path Feasibility Study||The goal of the study was to assess the feasiblility of constructing a 4.6 mile Bruce N. Freeman Memorial Bicycle Path along the railroad right-of-way within the Town of Acton. If you would like to pickup a copy on CDROM call IT Dept. at 443-8891, x307.||January 21, 2005
|Fire Chief's Responses to Questions Related to Public Safety on the Rail Trail||On September 12, 2006, the Rail Trail Committee supplied questions to the Sudbury Fire Chief, Kenneth MacLean regarding Public Safety along the Rail Trails in Sudbury. This document contains the questions and the Fire Chief's responses.||June 9, 2007
|Glossary of Rail-Trail Related Acronyms||Adobe Acrobat||May 16, 2005
|Home Sales Near Two Massachusetts Rail Trails||Home sales were examined in the seven Massachusetts towns through which the Minuteman Bikeway and Nashua River Rail Trail run. Statistics on list and selling prices and on days on the market were analyzed. There is no statistical analysis of the data, so RTCAC cannot verify the accuracy of these conclusions. Craig Della Penna is a rail trail enthusiast who has been employed by a rail road and by the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy. He is presently employed as a realtor, a speaker on rail trail issues, and the owner of a B&B located immediately adjacent to a rail trail in Massachusetts. In addition, he is involved in two organizations that promote the development of rail trails.||August 11, 2007
|Informational Handout||Handout prepared by FST for public meeting on June 15, 2006||June 21, 2006
|June 15, 2006 Public Information Meeting / Workshop - Summary||On June 15, 2006, about 70 people attended a meeting on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Environmental & Engineering Assessment and participated in a workshop session designed to give the community an opportunity to express their thoughts and concerns on the project. The consultant, Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, gave a brief presentation on the scope of services they will provide for the Assessment and presented an overview on rail trail corridors. Following the presentation, attendees broke into four workshop groups and discussed six questions. Fay, Spofford & Thorndike compiled the following summary which is intended to outline the comments made by participants attending the June 15 workshop and is not intended to be a transcript.||August 29, 2006
|Lowell-Sudbury Bicycle Path Feasibility Study ||The Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS), the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), and the Northern Middlesex Area Commission (NMAC) were commissioned to do a feasibility study to determine whether the railroad right-of-way running from near Route 20 in Sudbury to Route 3 in Lowell could be converted into a bicycle/hiking trail.||August 21, 2007
|Police Chief's Responses to Questions Related to Public Safety on the Rail Trail||On September 12, 2006, the Rail Trail Committee supplied questions to the Sudbury Police Chief, Peter Fadgen regarding Public Safety along the Rail Trails in Sudbury. This document contains the questions and the Police Chief's responses.||June 9, 2007
|Proposal to "Bring the Trail to Sudbury"||The Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail presented this proposal to the Board of Selectmen on June 29, 2011, and discussed it in a hearing with RTCAC on September 22,2011.||October 14, 2011
|Proposal to "Bring the Trail to Sudbury" (committee recommendation)||The RTCAC submitted this recommendation to the Sudbury Board of Selectmen on October 24, 2011. The Board accepted it on November 1.||January 14, 2012
|Proposal to "Bring the Trail to Sudbury" (cover letter)||The Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail presented the proposal to "Bring the Trail to Sudbury" June 29, 2011, to the Sudbury Board of Selectmen.||October 14, 2011
|Proposal to "Bring the Trail to Sudbury" (slides)||The Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail presented this proposal to the RTCAC on September 22, 2011||October 22, 2011
|Proposed Concord-Sudbury Bikeway ||Document summarizes data-gathering and analysis activities performed in support of the proposed Concord-Sudbury Bikeway project, a proposed re-use of an EOTC-owned railroad right-of-way. The section currently being examined extends from Route 2 west of the Concord Rotary in Concord, to Route 20 in Sudbury, a distance of approximately 8 miles.||August 21, 2007
|Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee Notebook Descriptions||To have the RTCAC work on researching and assembling all the other pieces of information the Board of Selectmen and Town Hall will need for design decisions. RTCAC will develop a notebook with a table of contents that outlines topics areas that require additional data collection.||February 11, 2008
|Rail Trail Feasibility Study - October 30, 2006||Feasibility Study for a Proposed Extension of the Bruce N. Freeman Memorial Path in Sudbury and Framingham, Cathy Buckley Lewis, Central Transportation Planning Staff, Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, October 2006 This study examines the possible conversion of the rail bed from Route 9 in Framingham to the crossing of the Mass. Central rail bed just north of Route 20 in Sudbury. The study looks at the history, geography, road crossings, accident statistics, projected usage, community impacts and estimated costs||November 16, 2006
|Action Recommendations||Recommendations for further action by the Town of Sudbury by the Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee||January 25, 2009
|Agricultural Concerns||Interviews with Sudbury Farmers whose properties abut the trail Right of Way. Madeleine Gelsinon, interviewer.||September 7, 2008
|Assabet River Rail Trail||Telephone interview with Michelle Ciccolo, Assistant Town Manager, Hudson on 7/16/07. (Bridget Hanson Interviewer). Further information on maintenance activities appended.||September 7, 2008
|Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in Sudbury||Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee - Timeline (September 23, 2010)
History of Sudbury Rail Trail Proposal
|October 19, 2010
|Conservation Questions for Rail Trails||A series of interviews conducted with Conservation Officers of Massachusetts towns along the Assabet River Rail Trail, the Nashua River Rail Trail, and the Wachusett Greenway concerning the permitting and the impact of the trail.||September 7, 2008
|Minuteman Commuter Bikeway||Published information on the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway (Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford)||May 24, 2008
|Regional Overview of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail||History of the rail trail proposal in other communities along the Bruce Freeman corridor.
Submitted July 24, 2008
|August 12, 2008
|Wachusett Greenways||Information compiled by Carole Wolfe in the summer of 2008 from presentations by Colleen Abrams, president of Wachusett Greenways, a non-paved rail trail.||September 26, 2008
|2005 RTCAC Annual Report||January 14, 2012
|2006 RTCAC Annual Report||January 14, 2012
|2007 RTCAC Annual Report||January 14, 2012
|2008 RTCAC Annual Report||January 14, 2012
|2009 RTCAC Annual Report||January 14, 2012
|2010 RTCAC Annual Report||January 14, 2012
|2011 RTCAC Annual Report||January 14, 2012
|2012 RTCAC Annual Report||January 12, 2013
This department has 43 documents
|01 - What is a rail trail?
It is an unused railroad right of way that has been converted into a multi-use recreational path and an off-road corridor for non-motorized transportation.
|02 - Which old railroad in Sudbury is the focus of current attention?
Two railroads criss-cross Sudbury.
One is the former Mass. Central Railroad that ran east-west roughly paralleling Route 20.
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is pursuing negotiations to lease this line from the MBTA and construct the Wayside Rail Trail extending from Waltham through Sudbury to Hudson and ending in Berlin. This project is occurring at the state level and, specifically, is not part of the Committee's charter. Local communities, including Sudbury, are not now engaged in this project as it proceeds at the state level.
The town's current focus is on the former Lowell Secondary line that runs from Framingham to Lowell. The section of the rail bed in Sudbury runs north-south roughly paralleling Nobscot Road, Union Ave. and Concord Road. While extending from the Concord-Sudbury border on the north to the Framingham-Sudbury border on the south, the line in Sudbury is split into two parts. From Crumble Station (the intersection of the north-south and east-west lines near AAA Limo by Union Avenue) heading north, the right of way is controlled by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works (EOTPW). From Crumble Station heading south, the line is owned by the CSXT corporation. At the 2008 Annual Town Meeting, Sudbury voted to acquire the CSXT owned portion of the right of way using Community Preservation Act funds. If this purchase is completed, the Town can determine to use that part of the right of way.
The northern portion of the right of way in Sudbury is still controlled by EOTPW. The RTCAC is tasked with investigating the north-south section controlled by EOTPW.
|03 - Why is the Town of Sudbury considering construction of a rail trail?
Some residents and town officials perceive that the rail trail has the potential to enhance the quality of life in Sudbury and provide increased recreational opportunities and an off-road corridor for non-motorized transportation. The consideration of a rail trail has new emphasis because nearby towns are now actively pursuing the construction of a rail trail along their sections of the unused north-south rail bed.
The construction of a rail trail is prominent in the Open Space Master Plan and the “Sustainable Sudbury” Master Plan (http://www.town.sudbury.ma.us/committees/committee_documents.asp?dept=Planning). Trail construction is a key factor in Section 5. “Transportation Element” and summarized under “Transportation Goals, Objectives and Implementation Strategies.”
|04 - What is the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail?
It is a proposed multi-use recreational trail and alternative transportation corridor along the former Lowell Secondary railroad line. This 25-mile Lowell-to-Framingham rail line opened in 1871 and operated for over 100 years. The right of way passes through Lowell, Chelmsford, Westford, Carlisle, Acton, Concord, Sudbury and Framingham. The name “Bruce Freeman” was chosen for the northernmost seven miles of the trail, and towns further south have generally adopted the same name for their sections of the trail.
|05 - Who was Bruce Freeman?
The Bruce N. Freeman Memorial Rail Trail (BFRT) is named for a state representative from Chelmsford who had the vision of turning this rail line into a trail for non-motorized recreation and transportation. Just before his death, Bruce Freeman played a key role in pushing for the support and funding of the first phase of trail construction.
|07 - What is the RTCAC?
In September 2004, the Sudbury Selectmen established a Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee (RTCAC) to advise the Selectmen concerning the conversion of the unused north-south rail line into a rail trail. The committee is tasked to identify and address the many questions and concerns that residents of Sudbury may have about the project including conceptual design of the path. The committee will also work with their counterparts in other towns and with state officials. See the Mission Statement for the RTCAC at http://sudbury.ma.us/committees/railtrail
|08 - Who are the members of the RTCAC?
They are listed on the Town of Sudbury’s web site. Six members are from Town Commissions and Departments. The committee also includes at-large members who were selected by the Selectmen after a number of candidates interviewed for positions on the committee.
|09 - What are Sudbury’s concerns about a rail trail?
The Board of Selectmen has tasked the RTCAC to examine the following concerns: financial resources, environmental issues, impact on abutters, engineering, trail surfaces, safety, parking, maintenance and costs.
|10 - What Town of Sudbury organizations are involved in investigating a rail trail?
In addition to the Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee, various Town boards and commissions (e.g., Department of Public Works, Park and Recreation Commission, Conservation Commission, Planning Board, and more) are involved in the investigations either directly, working through the RTCAC, or both.
|11 - What other organizations, not connected with Town government, are involved in planning for a rail trail?
Two advocacy groups are trying to influence the process. One of these is the Sudbury Citizens for Responsible Land Stewardship that is hoping that the railroad right of way will remain as it exists today. The other is the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail that is hoping to have a multi-use rail trail built to shared-use path standards.
|12 - How will residents have input to the approval and design of the trail?
One way is to talk to the members of the RTCAC and to town officials. RTCAC meetings are open to the public and the committee solicits community input. Leasing of the rail bed, funding of the design and of the construction will all have to go through town boards and town meeting. During the various design phases, there will be hearings to review and iterate designs. You are invited to attend all of the meetings and participate in those hearings. All meetings are posted on the Town’s web site.
|13 - How can I be kept informed about the rail trail?
Information concerning the rail trail (e.g., studies, FAQ, links to other sites) and the meetings of the RTCAC (e.g., schedule and minutes) is posted on the committee’s web site (http://www.town.sudbury.ma.us/committees/RailTrail).
Questions may be sent to the committee’s email address: email@example.com. Let the committee know if you would like to be kept informed of news via email.
|01 - Who currently owns the rail bed?
The former Framingham to Lowell Rail Line (the proposed Bruce Freeman Rail Trail) has two segments. The state of Massachusetts owns the rail bed north of the east-west crossing of the Mass. Central rail line just north of Route 20 in Sudbury. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) manages this section of the former Framingham to Lowell rail line. The railroad company CSX owns the rail bed south of the crossing.
|02 - How long is the rail bed in Sudbury?
The state-owned rail bed is 4.6 miles. The CSX-owned rail bed is 1.3 miles.
|03 - Is it feasible to construct a rail trail on the old rail bed?
A feasibility study of the Sudbury to Lowell rail trail was done in 1987 by a state agency and the study said that a rail trail is feasible. The same state agency released a feasibility study of CSX-owned rail bed in October 2006. The study said that a rail trail is also feasible on this section.
|04 - What is the width of the railroad right of way?
For most of its length, the right of way is 66 feet wide centered on the tracks. Just north of Route 20, the right of way narrows to 50 feet. A title review and survey would determine the precise location of the boundaries of the rail bed. The flat section of the rail bed where the ties and rails are located is a minimum of about 8 feet wide, the length of the ties.
|05 - What kind of surface will be on the trail?
There are several options for all or some of the trail:
A rail trail designed according to shared-use-path standards has 10 to 12 feet of firm flat surface with two-foot-wide shoulders on each side. If a rail trail is developed with partial state and federal funding, the design must conform to shared-use-path standards. In special situations, a waiver for a narrower trail may be allowed. The choice of the width and type of trail surface involves a number of considerations including types of users, number of users, construction cost, maintenance cost, cost sharing, environmental impact, and the standards set by the funding agencies. About one third of existing rail trails in the United States have paved surfaces. Others, especially in rural areas, have stone dust, gravel or other non-paved surfaces.
|06 - Will the trail be plowed in the winter?
Probably not. An unplowed trail would be available for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
|07 - Has construction started on the rail trail south of Route 20?
No. CSX has removed the rails and ties from the Mass. Central crossing south to Route 9. With the recent rise in scrap metal prices, the rails have become valuable. Removal of the rails and ties that has occurred is not related to any rail-trail construction plans.
|8 - What is the status of the informal walking path that currently exists along some section of the rail bed?
Such use of the rail bed is illegal, but usually not enforced. Legal use of the rail bed would only occur if a lease were signed with EOT.
|01 - What are the usual steps in the process of building a rail trail?
|02 - How much would designing and constructing a rail trail in Sudbury cost?
Construction costs are highly variable. Factors that make this cost highly variable include the costs of building bridges, highway crossings and other special situations. In general, construction costs of projects constructed in accordance with state and federal standards are estimated to be $1 million per linear mile. In 2006, the Town of Sudbury awarded a contract to the consulting firm Fay, Spofford and Thorndike to carry out an engineering and environmental assessment of the rail trail. FST estimated that the construction cost for a trail on the 4.6-mile EOT-managed section would be about $4 M, depending on the width and type of trail surface. The design cost was estimated at around $550,000.
The projected costs are preliminary, and subject to change. Projected construction costs in Acton have nearly doubled from the estimates made in the preliminary engineering and environmental assessment for that town; these projections are guidelines only.
|03 - If the rail trail were partially funded from the federal transportation act, what fraction of the costs would be borne by Sudbury?
Under our current understanding of this program, the Town of Sudbury would pay approximately 10% of the total of the costs of the engineering and other preliminary studies, design and construction.
All of the upfront costs through the final design would be the responsibility of the Town of Sudbury. Because design typically represents about 10% of the total cost, Sudbury's share would probably be satisfied by funding the design. Privately raised money can be used toward Sudbury's share. The state will pay up to 10% of the cost and federal transportation funds will pay up to 80%. The costs would include mitigation of the effects of the trail on abutters (e.g., fences or shrubbery)
Constructions costs are those determined in the 100% design. These estimates must under regulation include a contingency allowance to cover overruns during construction. Expenses exceeding these allowable overruns must be born by the local community.
|04 - Where would dollars for the Town’s portion of the rail trail come from?
The Town of Sudbury may choose to pay for its fraction of the costs directly through a property-tax levy via an article at Town meeting. Alternatively, the Town’s fraction may come from CPA funds. Any use of CPA funds must be recommended by the Community Preservation Committee and approved at Town meeting.
|05 - How much money has the Town of Sudbury spent in studying the rail trail?
The preliminary engineering and environmental assessment cost $25,000 and was funded at 2005 Sudbury Town Meeting through the CPA. At the 2007 Sudbury Town Meeting, the Town authorized spending an additional $15,000 to verify EOT's title to the right of way north of Crumble Station, $25,000 for a four season wildlife study of the corridor, and $105,000 for a center-line survey and wetlands delineation of the corridor. Only $39,900 has been spent on the survey/delineation; if the Town deems this project has been successfully completed, the unspent remainder will be returned to the CPC for re-allocation.
Additionally, at 2008 Sudbury Town Meeting, the Town authorized spending $420,000 of CPA funds to acquire the CSXT-owned right of way.
|06 - How can we justify spending money on a rail trail with the continuing pressure on the Town’s finances?
The town has the opportunity to consider building a public amenity along a public right of way. It may become part of a regional trail connecting Lowell and Framingham if other towns along the right of way proceed. The Town has indicated in the 2001 Sudbury Master Plan that trails are both desirable and consistent with Town values. If the Town approves, the Town's portion of design and construction expenses could be funded by the Community Preservation Act, which would require no change in the property tax rate.
|07 - What are Sudbury’s options for funding the design and construction of a rail trail?
The Town of Sudbury may decide to fund the rail trail entirely out of local funds, including property taxes, CPA funds and private donations. A second option is the combined use of local, state and federal funds under the federal transportation act. Currently, grants for design of rail trails in the greater Boston metropolitan area may be awarded from the TE (Transportation Enhancements) federal program. These are most commonly awarded for regional project designs, and require adoption of a regional design (upon which Sudbury would assert limited influence.)
Grants for the construction of rail trails may be awarded from the CMAQ (Congestions Mitigation and Air Quality) program. Bicycle and pedestrian projects compete for CMAQ funding with other projects such as intersection realignment and commuter rail parking, which are also aimed at bringing the region into conformity with federal air quality guidelines.
|08 - How much control would the Town of Sudbury have over the design and construction process?
If a lease is negotiated with EOTPW for construction of a rail trail on the section they manage, EOT may set some standards on what is built. EOTPW has not indicated any design restrictions except for a transportation component and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance. EOTPW has not yet awarded a lease to any of the towns along the corridor. EOTPW would prefer the local communities complete a 75% or 100% design of the proposed trail first to indicate local commitment. If Sudbury decides to proceed entirely with local funding and can obtain a suitable lease from EOTPW, the Town retains complete control of all other aspects of trail design and construction.
If the trail is built using federal funding, the design, bidding and construction process must conform to state and federal standards. In this case, the Massachusetts Highway Department will manage and contract the project in coordination with the Town of Sudbury and the Federal Highway Administration, and the Town will have less control over the design and construction.
|09 - Who makes the decisions on how the rail trail is designed, financed and constructed?
No one organization has the final authority. For the trail to go ahead, positive decisions will be required by Sudbury Town Boards and Commissions, Sudbury Town Meeting and the state Executive Office of Transportation EOT. If a portion of the funding comes from outside of Sudbury, the approval of a number of state and federal organizations will be required.
|10 - What must be done if trail conversion is done with state and federal funds?
If the trail is to be constructed with partial funding from the Federal transportation act, the Town must commit itself to funding its fraction of the total cost, approximately 10%. The Town's fraction is usually met if the Town pays for all of the steps through the final design. With a completed design and rights to the rail bed, the Town can apply for state and federal construction funding through the regional planning agency, the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The next step for Sudbury is a Town-funded 25% design. Each design phase would be followed by a series of hearings. When a final design is completed, the Mass. Highway Department will prepare a request for bids and award the construction contract.
A description of the planning, funding, and construction process can be found in the TIP at http://www.bostonmpo.org/bostonmpo/3_programs/2_tip/tip.html
The TIP is the "Transportation Improvement Program" which plans, prioritizes, and funds Massachusetts' transportation projects.
|11 - What if the trail conversion is done entirely with Sudbury funds?
The Town would need to gain access to the rail bed through purchase (as with the CSXT right of way) or lease. A lease from EOT may constrain the type of rail trail that is built. If the Town funds the entire project, all decisions would be made locally.
|12 - What are the land acquisition costs for the railroad right of way?
The state EOTPW will lease the rail bed to the Town of Sudbury at no cost. The acquisition cost to Sudbury for the CSXT rail bed authorized at 2008 Town Meeting is $420,000.
|13 - What agreements with the Executive Office of Transportation EOT would be required to convert the state-owned section to a rail trail?
EOTPW will lease the rail bed to the Town at no cost for transportation purposes. A rail trail is considered a transportation use of the rail bed. Rail trail design must be well underway before EOTPW would consider a lease. Currently, EOTPW has indicated to Acton that the 75% or 100% design must have been completed by the Town to demonstrate local commitment before a lease could be negotiated. The lease would likely require that EOTPW be relieved of any liability for environmental contamination. A mechanism has been set up by which the Town can insure itself against environmental liability. The lease could allow the Town to remove the rails and sell them; however, EOTPW retains the rights to remove or use the rails itself until a lease is formalized.
|14 - Do the rails have any value?
The rails have a salvage value. CSXT has removed the rails and ties in its section of the trail. If EOTPW agrees to lease the rail bed to Sudbury, EOTPW may allow the Town to remove the rails and sell them. This may yield a net income to the Town depending on the value of the rails and the costs of removal of the rails and ties. Alternatively, the rails may be retained by EOTPW for its own use.
|15 - Who would pay for the costs of a future major trail improvement, especially resurfacing?
The Town of Sudbury would be responsible for future improvements. Money may be requested from the Commonwealth to cover the costs.
|16 - What would it cost to maintain a rail trail?
Projections might be made on the basis of the experience in other communities. However, it is difficult to get firm numbers, especially since rail trail maintenance is usually lumped with other public works costs.
|17 - Who would pay for the maintenance of the trail?
The Town of Sudbury will pay the costs for maintenance. The usual lease agreement includes the assumption of maintenance costs by the local communities. The RTCAC will estimate the maintenance costs by talking with Sudbury’s DPW and by examining costs incurred for other existing rail trails. Cost of maintenance will depend on the choice of trail surface. Maintenance costs can be reduced by volunteer labor or by private donations. However, the Town remains the responsible entity.
|18 - Who would pay for policing of the rail trail?
The lease agreements would oblige the Town to be responsible for policing. The Town is generally responsible for policing any property within the Town of Sudbury.
|19 - With the backlog of needed road and bridge repairs, how can the state consider spending state and federal funds on a rail trail?
The federal transportation act sets aside a certain fraction of the total transportation funds to be used only for transportation improvements that do not involve motorized transportation. A large fraction of the construction costs for rail trails has been federally funded. The Federal funding is specifically designed to encourage alternate transportation--that is, the reduction of automobile traffic.
Massachusetts has recently completed the 2007 State Bicycle Transportation Plan ( see http://www.massbikeplan.org/) describing the state's commitment to bicycle infrastructure. As Secretary Cohen states:
"[The Plan] represents the most complete inventory ever compiled of existing on-road and off-road facilities and projects in the pipeline. Second, it develops a prioritized plan of on- and off-road bicycling improvements in order to implement a statewide bicycling network bound by a single identity. The network will serve to improve multi-modal transportation generally and bicycle transportation specifically."
This plan specifically identifies the east-west corridor in Sudbury (the Wayside Rail Trail) as a high priority corridor. It identifies the north-south line (the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail) south of Chelmsford as a secondary right of way. It should be noted, however, that this is only a plan. There is considerable pressure from towns along the BFRT to proceed with its development. At this time (September, 2008) Acton, Westford, Carlisle and Concord have all submitted to MassHighway 25% designs for their sections of the trail. All of these designs were begun before the 2007 Mass Bike Plan was made public.
|20 - What is the Massachusetts Statewide Bicycle Transportation Plan?
This 25 year bicycle plan from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation, made in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, (the principle funding source for bike paths) has the "primary purpose to develop a prioritized plan of on-and off-road bicycling improvements in order to implement a statewide bicycling network." The Plan encompasses 740 miles of primary and secondary bicycle routes which make up 7 Bay State Greenway Corridors. The first 10 years of the plan are dedicated to bike plans either currently advertised or funded.
|21 - Is the Bruce Freeman Rail trail mentioned in the Plan?
Yes, Phase 1 is listed as funded and advertised for construction. Additional phases are proposed.
|22 - Is the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Sudbury section described as a Primary Route in the Plan?
No. Appendix 6 of the Statewide Plan describes the Primary Routes of the 7 corridors in detail. The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail through West Concord, Sudbury and Framingham is not described as either a Primary or Long Term Change to a Primary Route.† Only the section currently under construction through Chelmsford, Westford and Carlisle is denoted as a Primary Route that continues into Acton and then travels through Concord Center into Arlington with the eventual terminus being in Boston.
|23 - Is the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Sudbury section described as a Secondary Route in the Plan?
No. Appendix 7 of the Plan describes the Secondary Routes of the 7 Corridors. The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail through West Concord, Sudbury and Framingham is not included as a Secondary Route.
|01 - How will environmental damage be avoided?
There are wetlands and habitat for rare and endangered species alongside the rail bed. Several vernal pools lie close to the railroad right of way. If the rail trail conversion proceeds, the trail will have to obtain permits. Construction of projects near wetlands are regulated by the Conservation Commission, and no permit will be issued unless the Commission is satisfied that the project will not adversely affect wetland functions, which include protection of groundwater quality, water supply, and wildlife habitat. A wildlife study would identify areas of particular concern. The project must be constructed in a way that protects the wetland from sedimentation and erosion and designed in a way to protect the wetlands from adverse effects of storm-water runoff. Examples of wetlands mitigation are provided by the Nashua River Rail Trail which passes through many wetlands.
|02 - What happens if contamination is found on the old rail bed?
The general procedures for identifying and mitigating contamination along rail trails have been worked out. The Mass. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a document entitled “Best Management Practices” that outlines the approach for identifying, managing and mitigating possible contamination in the rail bed. As part of negotiated lease or purchase agreements between the towns and the current owners of the rail bed, contamination liabilities would be addressed. The state has passed legislation that provides low-cost environmental insurance to communities that sign leases with EOT or the MBTA for conversion of rail beds into rail trails. To qualify for this insurance, the Town must refrain from doing any testing for contamination or other digging along the line until the insurance has been granted. A five-year environmental insurance policy with a $50,000 deductible would cost the Town $25K.
|03 - What will be the impact of the rail trail on the Town of Sudbury’s wells?
Several town wells are located south of Route 20 and a short distance east of the rail bed. The RTCAC and other town commissions will carefully examine the potential effects of rail trail construction on these wells.
|04 - What will happen to the old ties?
Because ties were treated with creosote, they would have to be disposed of through special arrangements. Any residual contamination of the rail bed due to the creosote would be dealt with as part of the approval, design and construction process.
|05 - Will the Town of Sudbury’s wetlands bylaw apply to the rail trail?
If the Town decides to convert the rail bed into a rail trail, it is likely that the Town would play the lead role in designing the trail and applying for construction funds. In such a scenario, this would be a Sudbury-led project and all Town bylaws would apply, including wetlands bylaw, even if the Massachusetts Highway Department manages the construction. If the Massachusetts Highway Department were to be the applicant to the Sudbury Conservation Commission for rail-trail permitting, only the lesser standard imposed by state law would apply. However, the ability of MassHighway to use a lesser standard is being questioned and legally researched.
|06 - How much clearing would be required to construct the trail?
If built according to shared-use-path standards, the travel surface would be 10 feet wide with a two-foot shoulder on each side. The minimum distance between trees on opposite sides of the trail would be 16 feet. With few exceptions, the trunks of the large trees that provide the existing canopy over the rail bed are outside the 16-foot width. Therefore, the existing canopy would be largely left in place. Shared-use-path standards also require maintaining a cleared height of ten feet above the trail surface. The Town would review the engineering designs and other information to assess the degree of clearing that would be required and how such clearing may affect the adjacent environment. A walking path would require minimal clearing except near stream crossings where bridge construction would be done. Additional clearing would likely be required near the two bridge-construction sites at Hop Brook and Pantry Brook. Access for emergency vehicles on a shared-use path may require turnarounds that need additional cleared sections along the path. Additional clearing to accommodate construction equipment may also be necessary.
|07 - How will disruption to wildlife along the trail be minimized?
During construction, there would be minimal, if any, filling of wetlands. Sediment barriers would be employed. If the trail were unlighted, disruption of nighttime wildlife use would be minimal. Any fencing must allow wildlife passage. Where appropriate, wildlife passages under the trail may be used. The effects of increased human presence are unknown.
|01 - What are the proposed phases of trail construction along the entire Lowell-Framingham right of way?
Phase I runs 7 miles from Lowell through Chelmsford and most of Westford. All of the feasibility studies, design, hearings, funding and bidding are now complete. Construction of Phase I will begin in 2007. Construction for Phase I of the BFRT in Lowell, Chelmsford and Westford has been fully financed by a combination of state funds and Federal transportation funds. Mass Highway has managed the design and will be responsible for oversight of the construction contract. Phase II is a proposed extension of the trail south from Phase I.
Phase II has short sections in Westford and Chelmsford. The major portion of this phase is in Acton, Concord and Sudbury south to the crossing of the former Mass. Central line. All of Phase II is owned by the state and managed by EOT.
Phase III is a proposed extension from the crossing in south Sudbury to a point just north of Route 9 in Framingham. All of Phase III is owned by CSX, which has entered into agreements with the Towns of Sudbury and Framingham to negotiate a lease or sale of the rail bed for use as a rail trail. In addition to a possible rail trail, use of CSX land would be needed in order to make some planned improvements to the Route-20/Nobscot Rd. intersection.
|02 - What is the status of the rail trail studies in the towns along the proposed trail?
The Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) of the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization has completed three feasibility studies for the trail. Combined Phases I and II were studied in 1987. An update to this study covering Concord and Sudbury was done in 2003. In October 2006, CTPS completed a study of Phase III. The conclusion of all of the studies is that a rail trail is feasible. Preliminary Environmental and Engineering Assessments of the proposed Bruce Freeman rail trail have been completed for Acton, Concord, and the Phase II right of way in Sudbury.
|03 - What will Phase I look like?
The portion of the Bruce Freeman Trail in Lowell, Chelmsford and Westford (Phase I) will have a 10-foot-wide paved surface. Along several sections, fencing will be erected at the request of the homeowners.
|04 - When will Phase II be completed?
All of the towns except Sudbury (Westford, Carlisle, Acton and Concord) are proceeding with the 25% design of the rail trail in those towns. Experience has shown that the process of building a rail trail is a long one. The first study of the Phase II section occurred in 1987. It may take another decade to complete Phase II. If construction is partially funded with state and federal funds, funding has to be scheduled on the state Transportation Improvement Plan TIP. Funding for the northern sections of Phase II has been shifted back and forth between 2008 and 2010. Funding does not go on the TIP until planning has sufficiently solidified. Sudbury is not ready to have funding for its section on the TIP. For Phase II, the Route 2 crossing will likely be the last part to be completed.
|01 - How can the effects of a rail trail in Sudbury be estimated?
The experience with existing rail trails provides valuable information. This information can be obtained by visiting nearby rail trails and by reading studies of existing rail trails.
|02 - What kinds of rail-trail studies exist?
Advocacy groups that either support or oppose the construction of rail trails publish extensively. However, because these groups take advocacy positions, they may not be as reliable or unbiased as studies done by academics or under the auspices of government agencies. Many studies and additional information are on the RTCAC website and in the Goodnow library. Many studies are available via the web. Search on “rail trail studies”, in quotes.
|03 - What rail trails are near Sudbury?
A comprehensive list of Massachusetts rail trails can be seen at: http://www.massbike.org/bikeways/
Nearby rail trails include;
|04 - How would the security of abutters and of trail users be maintained?
It is likely that the Sudbury Police Department would patrol the trail. A rail trail built to shared-use-path standards would accommodate patrol cars and emergency vehicles. Users with cell phones have become a key part of enhancing security along other rail trails. Appropriate fencing or shrubbery is usually included in the construction costs for a rail trail. Shared-use-path standards dictate fencing alongside the trail where there are sharp drop offs.
|05 - Would motorized vehicles, especially motorcycles and snowmobiles, be allowed on the trail?
The only motorized vehicles allowed on the trail would be emergency vehicles, maintenance vehicles and motorized wheel chairs. Other motorized vehicles would not be allowed. The Town may need to pass an ordinance to enforce this prohibition. Bollards or gates at the intersection of the trail with roads will also provide a physical deterrent to motorized vehicles on the trail.
|06 - Would there be a curfew for the trail?
No decision concerning a curfew has been made. Existing sentiment appears to lean toward no nighttime use of a trail.
|07 - What is the Town’s liability for accidents occurring on the trail?
The Town would have the same liability as that for the existing conservation and recreation areas. By statute, this liability is very limited.
|08 - How will the safety of trail users and motorists be maintained where the trail intersects a roadway?
Standard shared-use-path design employs several types of warnings to trail users that they are approaching an intersection. The warning may be in the form of signs, striping of the travel surface or a travel surface that differs from the rest of the trail. Bollards or gates will placed at each intersection to further warn users and slow them down. In some places, a user-activated crossing light may be used. The Route 117 and Hudson Rd. crossings are prime candidates for such lights. If the rail trail crosses Route 20, users can employ the push-button activated crossing light that already exists. Special striping, crossing lights and signs are among the means for warning motorists that a trail crossing is ahead. Designers of rail trails try to lay out a trail such that it crosses roads as close to perpendicular as possible. This enhances the safety of both trail users and motorists.
|01 - Who will use the rail trail?
Cyclists would probably be one of the largest groups of users. However, a rail trail is a community path that, if appropriately designed, can accommodate many kinds of users including walkers, runners, and families with strollers. In many communities, walkers are the largest users of rail trails. In the winter, cross-country skiers may use the trails. Well-trained cyclists who log lots of miles at high speeds are unlikely to use the rail trail. Most such cyclists prefer to use the roads. The cycling users of the rail trails are more likely to be families with children.
|02 - Would the trail be used for “transportation” in addition to “recreation”?
In Sudbury, the trail would provide access to
Several engineering and property issues need to be resolved before an exit near the crossing of the Mass. Central line can be established without using the CSX-owned right of way. If the CSX-owned section were converted into a rail trail, it would cross Route 20 at a spot convenient to the shopping areas.
|03 - Will many users come from out of town?
We don’t know how many people will use the trail and how many will drive to the trail from out of town. We will work with state agencies to get some estimates. Because of its route, we don’t expect many commuters to use the trail except for access to the West Concord railroad station.
|04 - Will equestrians be allowed to use the trail?
Many rail trails have accommodated both equestrians and other users such as walkers and cyclists by constructing a separate dirt path alongside the prepared trail. In Sudbury, some sections are on a raised rail bed through wetlands, so in those sections, there isn’t room for a second parallel path unless the wetlands are filled. This is highly unlikely. Because of maintenance difficulties, horses would probably not be allowed on a non-paved path. A paved path would not be very attractive to equestrians.
|05 - Where will users park?
Many residents of Sudbury and nearby towns would travel to the trail by bicycle. Parking for others has been addressed in the Engineering and Environmental Assessment and would be further addressed in the design phases. Existing parking areas that could serve the rail trail include those at recreation areas, conservation areas and schools. Davis Field and Parmenter (Ti-Sales) Field abut the rail bed. Even though Featherland Park abuts the rail trail, parking there is very limited due to the heavy use of the parking areas for sports. It may be possible to arrange for parking at the Nixon school, especially on weekends. Also, some of the businesses near Route 20 might welcome parking by rail trail users.
|06 - Will there be restroom facilities on the trail?
Restrooms are available at some of the Town recreation areas that abut the trail. If found to be desirable, portable facilities can be provided at some spots as is done along the Nashua River Rail Trail.
|07 - Will Sudbury’s rail trail become heavily used like the Minuteman Bikeway in Cambridge, Arlington, Lexington and Bedford?
The Minuteman Bikeway has become a very popular and heavily used rail trail. It runs through a heavily populated area and provides a direct route in and out of the center city. The usage of the rail trail in Sudbury will probably be less because our area is less densely populated and farther separated from dense urban areas. The trail will likely have some use as a commuting route, but the destinations along the trail are fewer than for the Minuteman Trail. We do anticipate that the trail will provide a route to bicycle or walk from many homes to the shopping and recreational areas. The trail will provide a means for getting to the railroad commuter station in West Concord.
|Patricia Brown||Chairman||34 Whispering Pine Road||Indefinite|
|Madeleine Gelsinon||Member||520 Concord Road||Indefinite|
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|Nancy J. Powers||Member||201 Union Avenue||Indefinite|
|Richard C. Williamson||Member||21 Pendleton Road||Indefinite|
|Carole Wolfe||Member||637 Concord Rd||Indefinite|
|Today's Date: Friday, May 24, 2013|
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