Acton ARRT Project Status & History

July 21, 2016:   MassDOT Highway Administrator Tom Tinlin joined area officials at the ground breaking event to recognize the commencement of the construction project for the Maynard-Action section of the Assabet River Rail Trail. This Rail Trail project links the Assabet River National Wildlife refuge with the downtown Maynard business district and the South Acton Commuter Rail Station, providing an alternative transportation option. The construction schedule is 24 months and will end in June 2018.

February 23, 2016:  There were construction bids from 6 companies at the 2:00 PM deadline, ranging from $6,719,972 - $10,445,269.

September 19, 2015:  MassDOT advertised the Acton-Maynard trail project for construction. The bidding closes on February 23, 2016, with the winning bidder selected in April-May and construction starting in June-July. Once construction starts, it will take 24 months to finish.

April 7, 2015:  The 2015 Annual Acton Town Meeting had it's final ARRT related warrant, to appropriate up to $170,000 for the last required ROW easement. The vote was unanimous.

April 1, 2015:  The required Maynard and Acton Conservation Commissions approval process started with public hearings on March 17th and April 1st, in each town. Each commission received an environmental presentation from the engineering firm and their consultants. UPDATE: both town's conservation boards voted to approve the conservation aspects of the trail.

October 21, 2014:  The preliminary 75% design for the Acton-Maynard section was sent by the engineering firm to MassDOT. The document is here.

March 29, 2014:  Francesca Demolition has started to remove the RR rails in Maynard. They started behind Cumberland Farms on Friday and will then move on to High Street. After Maynard is finished in a couple of weeks, they will move on to Acton.

October 1, 2013:  The Massachusetts 2014-2017 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) went into effect today. In this plan, the Acton-Maynard ARRT is scheduled to start construction in Fiscal 2015 as a 'first-tier' project. The next steps are for the engineering firm to move to the 75% design stage.

November 9, 2011:  The 25% ARRT design plans for Acton-Maynard were delivered to the MassDOT by AECOM, the engineering firm that has the engineering contract. All of the overview sheets are posted on this web site. This comes exactly a year after the design funds were restored in 2010 and AECOM resumed working on the project.

December 8, 2010:  The Town of Acton closed on the purchase of the 19 acre Caouette Farm in South Acton. With this purchase using Community Preservation Act money, the town directed AECOM engineers to plan a rerouting of the last 100 yards of the trail onto the farm property. The end result will be that the planned bike bridge over the MBTA RR tracks can be eliminated and the crossing of Maple Street shifted to a better location, which will save an estimated 1/2 million dollars in construction.

October 16, 2010:  The state released the money to finish designing the Acton & Maynard section of the trail. The Concord engineering firm AECOM (formerly EarthTech) resumed work and is tasked with bringing the design from 25% all the way to 100%.

July 23, 2009:  The MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) voted to include construction funding for the entire unbuilt ARRT (Acton, Maynard, Stow) in the 2011-15 Regional Transportation Plan. The amount they voted is $20,348,520 which includes a 4% annual inflation from the 2009 estimated construction cost. The MPO's action today satisfies Federal Highway's condition for the release of the rest of the 2005 design funds, so EarthTech's 100% design work can resume.

July 25, 2007:  The Town of Acton hosted the Acton - Maynard 100% Design Kick-off Meeting on July 25th, with the assistance of EarthTech. The design phase will last 12 months. In July, The Town of Acton and the MBTA signed a lease agreement for the 1/2 mile of Right of Way (ROW). This was the last piece of property required to build the 1.1 mile Acton rail trail.

July 14, 2007:  At a June 25th public hearing, BSC-TerraSphere presented their recommendations for the design of the pedestrian bridge and approach ramps needed to cross the MBTA tracks at South Acton village.

May 25, 2007:  The towns of Acton and Maynard have announced that the Concord based engineering firm EarthTech, will do the 100% design of the 3.45 miles in Acton & Maynard. They were the winning bidder of the 6 firms that submitted proposals on March 1st. Design work will start by mid-summer and finish in 2008.

March 1, 2007: Six engineering firms submitted bids for the Acton-Maynard trail design project on the March 1st deadline. It is expected that the contract will be awarded by the end of April.

January 31, 2007: Acton has received a Massachusetts Downtown Initiative (MDI) Program grant to help the preliminary ("10%") design study of how the trail will cross over the MBTA tracks at the South Acton train station. Other funding support comes from Acton's ARRT CPA funds. BSC-TerraSphere is the design consultant and will be presenting the 3 best options at a public hearing sometime around April.

January 25, 2007: The RFP (Request for Proposals) for the 100% design of the Acton-Maynard ARRT project was posted on the state web site. A meeting for prospective bidders was well attended and the preliminary bids are due March 1st 2007.

May 2005: Wedgewood Realty Trust and the Acton Board of Selectman finished the ROW trail easement that was referenced in the 2004 Town Meeting. Both parties signed the document. This means that 1/2 of the Acton section of the proposed trail is now resolved. That leaves only the MBTA property unresolved.

April 10, 2004: Voters at the annual town meeting passed two articles that will have a positive effect on trail development in Acton. Approved was Article 18, the appropriation of $944,456 in Community Preservation Act funds to 12 local projects. Included in the 12-part appropriation is $170,000 for ARRT. This represents the Town's share of the design and build costs of the Acton portion of the trail. Passing by voice vote was a zoning variance on the Anderson property. This clears the way for the Selectman to sign a Right Of Way easement with Anderson for the trail.

July 9, 2003: The state legislature passed and forwarded to the Governor, a bill commonly referred to as the Municipal Relief Package. It contains an amendment authored by Acton State Senator Pam Resor, that is intended to break the liability deadlock between the MBTA and the 30 Massachusetts communities attempting to lease abandoned RR right-of-ways. Acton's attempt to lease the MBTA ROW in South Acton is dependant on the bill being signed.

October 2001: The MBTA Executive Board voted in early October to transfer the 0.7 mile MBTA ROW to the town of Acton at no cost. (7/2004 update: this hasn't happened yet)

October 9, 2001: The Acton Board of Selectman voted to accept the Assabet River Rail Trail Implementation Plan that was produced by Earth Tech. The 76 page report was commissioned by the 5 ARRT communities in 2000 and delivered to the town this month. It is a guideline for the remainder of project.

At the same meeting, it was announced that the town intended to add a warrant on the Spring 2002 Town Meeting that would cover the town's local match grant to design and build the 1.1 miles of the trail in Acton. This comes as the town wraps up its acquisition of the trail right-of-way, using the money authorized by the 1998 Town Meeting.

May 2, 2001: Acton Conservation Commission, in a non-binding resolution, OK'd the idea of a proposed boardwalk connecting the trail from the rear parking lot of the Beacon/Wedgewood building back to the original right of way on the south side of the Wedgewood property. The consensus was this would not disturb the wetland. The Town of Acton is in the process of negotiating a trail easement across the Wedgewood property.

April 28, 2001: As part of the Acton Earth Day festivities, the ARRT sponsored and led a walk of the Acton trail route. 25 people of all ages, took advantage of the perfect weather and a freshly cleared trail. ARRT also sponsored a information table at the main Earth Day location.

October 26, 2000: At press conference held by Senator Pam Resor, Senator Cheryl Jacques, & Mass Highway Commissioner Matt Amorello announced the Mass Highway Board's vote-to make available $654,280.00 for the acquisition side of the 1998 ISTEA grant. Acton and the other 4 communities will finally have funds to work with to secure the ARRT right of way. Acton's share of this amount is about $150,000.

September, 2000: ARRT Project Planning Effort in High Gear, starting in Acton ... In Sept. & Oct., Acton ARRT volunteers Martin Graetz and Tom Kelleher, in concert with Town Planner Roland Bartl will be working with EarthTech to develop the strategic plan for implementation of the entire, 5-Town ARRT.

July 11, 2000: The ARRT was incorporated as "ARRT Inc.", a Massachusetts registered non-profit organization.

June 15, 2000: Acton and the other 4 commmunities issued a RFP to hire a consultant to prepare an up-to-date ARRT Master Plan. The plan would look at all the various ARRT segments, refine the proposed trail alignment, identify how all the pieces fit into the bigger picture, develop cost estimates, and detail a phasing plan from now until the completion of the entire ARRT.

Six seniors from Acton-Boxborough High School completed a walk of the Acton section to assist in the identification of significant natural resources. The walk, led by Markus Pinney, a land-use specialist from Lexington, was one of a series of walks to be held in each ARRT town.

April 6, 1998: Two articles authorizing the Town of Acton to appropriate funds for the first phase of the rail trail project were passed at Town Meeting.

Article 3, to raise the matching funds of up to $30,000, passed on a voice vote. Article 4, which requested the $150,000 of reimbursable spending, required a two-thirds majority. It passed 335 to 154.

Avery Associates has begun the Acton appraisals that were authorized by the 1997 grant ARRT received for land acquisition.

April 1998: The ARRT received a grant of $3,000 from the Department of Environmental Management's Greenways and Trails Demonstration Grant program. The grant was used to conduct a natural resource inventory and assessment of the proposed ARRT route.

February 1998: Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for appraising the entire ARRT route including Acton, were advertised in local newspapers on February 19. Bids were opened on March 6. Determining the fair market value of the parcels comprising the ARRT route is a key step in securing the federal funds earmarked for acquisition.

December 1997: The federal government approved $17 million in funding for transportation enhancements in Massachusetts, which included the grant proposal submitted by the five ARRT communities to aquire the legal rights to the ARRT route.

May 1997: The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) recommended that the Assabet River Rail Trail receive funding in fiscal year 1998 to begin acquiring portions of the right-of-way of the former Marlborough Rail Line.

In a grant proposal submitted by the five ARRT communities (Marlborough, Hudson, Stow, Maynard, and Acton), the towns would receive $668,000 to acquire the legal rights for the continuous 12.5 mile right-of-way.