November 1998

Next ARRT Volunteers' Meeting November 19

The next ARRT volunteers' meeting will be Thursday, November 19, at 7:00 p.m., in the Stow Public Library. This will be a very important meeting in which we will begin discussing how best to transform ourselves into a "friends of the rail trail" organization. Please try to attend.

Design Firm Selected; Appraisals Complete

EarthTech, a Concord-based design firm with extensive experience working with Mass Highways, has been selected to design the Marlborough-to-Hudson section of the Assabet River Rail Trail. In an eight-month project, the company will design the stretch that runs from the corner of Lincoln and Mechanic Streets in Marlborough, north more than three miles to downtown Hudson. The contract with EarthTech is expected to be signed within a few weeks. ARRT volunteers will get their first look at the design at the 25% design phase in a few months.

Appraisals for the entire right-of-way were completed this summer, and are being reviewed this fall by Mass Highways. Once Mass Highways approves the appraisals, the towns can begin negotiating with individual landowners for the purchase of the rail-trial route. The design, appraisals, and eventual acquisition of the rail-trail route are being funded by an Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) grant of $773,000 that ARRT was awarded in the fall of 1997, along with a 10% local match from the four ARRT towns.

Activities Continue on Marlborough Sections

The design of the first section of the Assabet River Rail Trail to be built, from Fairbanks Boulevard to Ash Street in Marlborough, has been completed. The only remaining hurdle is a securing drainage easement from Assabet Valley Technical High School, whose property borders the right-of-way. Construction is expected to begin next spring. On the other side of Fitchburg Street, developer Jon Delli Priscoli, who plans to develop the parcel of land between Fitchburg Street and the Route 290 connector, has agreed to design and build that section of the rail trail as part of the terms of a special zoning permit.

Craig Della Penna to Speak in Natick

Craig Della Penna, the New England representative for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and author of such books as Great Rail-Trails of the Northeast, will give a presentation on Rail-Trail Development in New England.

When:   7:00 p.m., Tuesday, December 8th, 1998 
Where:  Morse Institute Library 
        14 East Central St.
Admission is free.

Sponsors: Cochituate State Park Advisory Committee, Framingham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Natick Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Web Sites Offer Ideas, Information

ARRT volunteers are not alone in their efforts to turn abandoned railroad rights-of-way into valuable community assets. Across the country volunteer organizations are going through the same process of building community support, developing grant proposals, and working with elected officials to create rail trails. The following web sites can provide valuable information and support. This is the rail-trail branch of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition web site. This site contains a tremendous amount of valuable information about planned and existing rail trails in Massachusetts. Provides links to the web sites of numerous rail trail supporters' organizations, including ARRT. Bills itself as "the web site for rail trail advocates in New England," and it certainly lives up to that claim. You'll find lots of links to other sites that cover topics such as advocacy, resources, and people involved in the rails-to-trails movement. Two links from the home page are especially valuable: "Overview of the New ISTEA Law," and "Know Your Opposition." The web site of the national Rails to Trails Conservancy. This site contains much information about the rails-to-trails movement on a national level, as well as many valuable resources for local rail-trail organizations. It also provides a "U.S. Rail Trail Information Center," which provides summary information on more than 700 rail trails in the United States. The web site of the National Association of Reversionary Property Owners (NARPO), the most prominent, and vocal, anti-rail trail organization in the country. This organization believes that abandoned railroad rights of way should revert to their original owners. This site provides insight into the more strident opposition rail-trail advocates face.