Citizen Feedback Spurs Support for Rail-Trail in Massachusetts

Posted 09/04/12 by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Building Trails

Photo © BCRTA

Exciting plans for the Bay Colony Rail Trail southwest of Boston, Mass., took a big step toward fruition this month with the Needham Board of Selectmen unanimously supporting funding a study necessary to move the rail-trail project forward.

The support of Needham officials was seen as a crucial piece of the puzzle in building the seven miles of rail-trail along a disused section of rail corridor (right) linking the towns of Medfield, Dover, Needham and Newton.

According to an article posted yesterday at Wicked Local Needham, the selectmen's approval to fund the study came on the heels of a town-wide survey in which citizens said the least satisfactory part of town services were recreational facilities, including access to walking and biking trails.

The vote is great news for the Bay Colony Rail Trail Association (BCRTA), which recognizes that aligning the support of each municipality along the route is crucial to the project's success. The BCRTA will continue raising funds and seeking grant funding for construction of future phases. Good news for locals is that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick recently reaffirmed the state's support for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), rejecting an opt-out provision which would have allowed this dedicated source of funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure to be used on road maintenance. 

"This is a tremendous use of this money," Selectmen John Bulian told Wicked Local. "I'm a strong supporter of the rail trail, from Needham to Medfield. I'm glad to see the project moving forward in all towns."

The rail-trail is also well-supported by the company that owns the corridor, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which has indicated it would be willing to lease the land to the towns for 85 years, at no cost.

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