This committee was dissolved by the Board of Selectmen on July 28, 2015

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FAQs


Question: 23 – Is the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Sudbury section described as a Secondary Route in the Plan?

Answer:  

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.

Question: 21 – Is the Bruce Freeman Rail trail mentioned in the Plan?

Answer:  

Yes, Phase 1 is listed as funded and advertised for construction. Additional phases are proposed.

Question: 22 – Is the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Sudbury section described as a Primary Route in the Plan?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 20 – What is the Massachusetts Statewide Bicycle Transportation Plan?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 08 – How will the safety of trail users and motorists be maintained where the trail intersects a roadway?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 06 – Would there be a curfew for the trail?

Answer:  

No decision concerning a curfew has been made. Existing sentiment appears to lean toward no nighttime use of a trail.

Question: 07 – What is the Town

Answer:  

The Town would have the same liability as that for the existing conservation and recreation areas. By statute, this liability is very limited.

Question: 05 – Would motorized vehicles, especially motorcycles and snowmobiles, be allowed on the trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 04 – How would the security of abutters and of trail users be maintained?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 03 – What rail trails are near Sudbury?

Answer:  

A comprehensive list of Massachusetts rail trails can be seen at: http://www.massbike.org/bikeways/ Nearby rail trails include; Minuteman Bikeway (MinutemanBikeway.org/Pages/intro.html Bedford Narrow-Gauge Rail Trail (http://www.bedforddepot.org/MinutemanBikeway.html#NGRT Nashua River Rail Trail (www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/nash.htm Assabet River Rail Trail (www.ARRTinc.org/) Wachusetts … More

Question: 02 – What kinds of rail-trail studies exist?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 01 – How can the effects of a rail trail in Sudbury be estimated?

Answer:  

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.

Question: 04 – When will Phase II be completed?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 03 – What will Phase I look like?

Answer:  

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.

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Question: 02 – What is the status of the rail trail studies in the towns along the proposed trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 01 – What are the proposed phases of trail construction along the entire Lowell-Framingham right of way?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 07 – How will disruption to wildlife along the trail be minimized?

Answer:  

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. … More

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Question: 06 – How much clearing would be required to construct the trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 05 – Will the Town of Sudbury’s wetlands bylaw apply to the rail trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 04 – What will happen to the old ties?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 03 – What will be the impact of the rail trail on the Town of Sudbury’s wells?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 02 – What happens if contamination is found on the old rail bed?

Answer:  

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 ΓÇ£Best Management PracticesΓÇ¥ that outlines the approach for identifying, managing … More

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Question: 01 – How will environmental damage be avoided?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 19 – With the backlog of needed road and bridge repairs, how can the state consider spending state and federal funds on a rail trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 17 – Who would pay for the maintenance of the trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 18 – Who would pay for policing of the rail trail?

Answer:  

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.

Question: 16 – What would it cost to maintain a rail trail?

Answer:  

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.

Question: 14 – Do the rails have any value?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 15 – Who would pay for the costs of a future major trail improvement, especially resurfacing?

Answer:  

The Town of Sudbury would be responsible for future improvements. Money may be requested from the Commonwealth to cover the costs.

Question: 12 – What are the land acquisition costs for the railroad right of way?

Answer:  

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.

Question: 13 – What agreements with the Executive Office of Transportation EOT would be required to convert the state-owned section to a rail trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 11 – What if the trail conversion is done entirely with Sudbury funds?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 09 – Who makes the decisions on how the rail trail is designed, financed and constructed?

Answer:  

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. … More

Question: 10 – What must be done if trail conversion is done with state and federal funds?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 08 – How much control would the Town of Sudbury have over the design and construction process?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 07 – What are Sudbury’s options for funding the design and construction of a rail trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 06 – How can we justify spending money on a rail trail with the continuing pressure on the Town’s finances?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 04 – Where would dollars for the Town’s portion of the rail trail come from?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 05 – How much money has the Town of Sudbury spent in studying the rail trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 03 – If the rail trail were partially funded from the federal transportation act, what fraction of the costs would be borne by Sudbury?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 02 – How much would designing and constructing a rail trail in Sudbury cost?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 01 – What are the usual steps in the process of building a rail trail?

Answer:  

A railroad bed is no longer in active use and the potential for a rail trail is identified A feasibility study done by the state A series of local actions to approve the exploration … More

Question: 8 – What is the status of the informal walking path that currently exists along some section of the rail bed?

Answer:  

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.

Question: 06 – Will the trail be plowed in the winter?

Answer:  

Probably not. An unplowed trail would be available for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Question: 07 – Has construction started on the rail trail south of Route 20?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 05 – What kind of surface will be on the trail?

Answer:  

There are several options for all or some of the trail: Conventional asphalt Asphalt with and colored-chip stone surface Many variants of non-asphalt material with a binder Stone dust Dirt A rail trail designed according … More

Question: 04 – What is the width of the railroad right of way?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 03 – Is it feasible to construct a rail trail on the old rail bed?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 02 – How long is the rail bed in Sudbury?

Answer:  

The state-owned rail bed is 4.6 miles. The CSX-owned rail bed is 1.3 miles.

Question: 01 – Who currently owns the rail bed?

Answer:  

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 … More

Question: 13 – How can I be kept informed about the rail trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 12 – How will residents have input to the approval and design of the trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 11 – What other organizations, not connected with Town government, are involved in planning for a rail trail?

Answer:  

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. … More

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Question: 10 – What Town of Sudbury organizations are involved in investigating a rail trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 09 – What are Sudbury’s concerns about a rail trail?

Answer:  

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.

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Question: 08 – Who are the members of the RTCAC?

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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 … More

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Question: 07 – What is the RTCAC?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 05 – Who was Bruce Freeman?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 03 – Why is the Town of Sudbury considering construction of a rail trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 04 – What is the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 02 – Which old railroad in Sudbury is the focus of current attention?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 07 – Will Sudbury’s rail trail become heavily used like the Minuteman Bikeway in Cambridge, Arlington, Lexington and Bedford?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 05 – Where will users park?

Answer:  

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. … More

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Question: 01 – Who will use the rail trail?

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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 … More

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Question: 03 – Will many users come from out of town?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 01 – What is a rail trail?

Answer:  

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.

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Question: 06 – Will there be restroom facilities on the trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 04 – Will equestrians be allowed to use the trail?

Answer:  

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 … More

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Question: 02 – Would the trail be used for ΓÇ£transportationΓÇ¥ in addition to ΓÇ£recreationΓÇ¥?

Answer:  

In Sudbury, the trail would provide access to Three Town conservation area Three town recreation areas abutting the trail A fourth recreation area abutting the trail planned for the Mahoney Farm property south of Route … More

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Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee has 69 FAQs

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