Biking the Boston 'Burbs (Trails, MDC, & Towns beyond Hubway area)

Arlington

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^ The clever/crazy thing about the Clippership Connector was always how they'd come to assemble the right of way: a crazy quilt mix of public owners (Medford Housing Authority, City of Medford, MassHighway, DCR) but also needing the assistance of people (a boatyard) that leases its land from the DCR, and also general Chapter 91 access. And wherein the people with the least legal rights (the nearby condo owners who thought of the riverfront as private) were numerous and vocal...but always outnumbered by path advocates (which is why this continues to grind forward).
 

kjdonovan

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Annoying NIMBY Update from June 4:

Announcements, Updates, and Funding Opportunities
Alicia Hunt from Medford shared that DCR is managing the Clippership Connector trail
project in Medford, which had been expected to be constructed this season. However,
delays due to easements have meant that they won’t go out to bid until this coming
winter with construction occurring next year.

There's a bumper sticker floating around that reads "Keep Medford Boring."

Never was a phrase more apt.
 

BuilditDenser

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I noticed this the other day and I don't believe it's been posted

The spring edition of the Bruce Freeman rail trail says that the Acton to Concord connector over rt 2 is going to start construction imminently. Having grown up very close to the spot of the bridge, it's a major add that bridges the two already built rail trails on either side of it.

When I was out there a couple of weeks ago, I didn't see any movement on the site. Hopefully it kicks off soon!

 

RandomWalk

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They have started clearing and grubbing the ROW. I think they’re also starting work on the temporary crossovers.
 

BeeLine

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Not a cyclist, but I noticed that they seem to be clearing and grubbing an old ROW in S Salem along side the CR tracks and heading towards the SE. Kinda towards Salem State. Is this an extension of some path??
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Not a cyclist, but I noticed that they seem to be clearing and grubbing an old ROW in S Salem along side the CR tracks and heading towards the SE. Kinda towards Salem State. Is this an extension of some path??
Yes. Extension of the Marblehead (ex- Salem Branch) Rail Trail from Canal St. trail head near campus an extra 1800 ft. to Ocean Ave., then snaking on top of the Eastern Route cut through several business backyards to ultimately connect with the grade-separated portion of Canal St. cycle track up on the wall overlooking the Eastern Route cut into Downtown. Was ensnared for years in delays because of (1) illegal toxic dumping on the backlots abutting the Eastern ROW and finger-pointing therein, (2) Keolis reluctance to move a couple signal heads and finger-pointing therein, (3) one 'former' Pan Am customer who held their derelict siding north of Ocean Ave. due to be torn out for the trail extension hostage by ordering a single empty boxcar parked on it for 1 month at a time every 2 years on the dot as a ploy to extort payola from the trail for "active" rights.

All of that's finally been settled. Keolis moved the signal heads during PTC installation activities, the ex-customer shirked off because their claim to the to-be-deleted siding was pretty much baseless, and I guess they've figured out who's paying for the backlot cleanup. Resulting build will make SSU campus a lot more accessible to downtown with the grade separation.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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FWIW...with these infills--Encore, Clippership, Salem--proceeding apace to some degree, the only trail gaps between Alewife and Downtown Salem (roundabout fashion...w/ sweep through Marblehead) will be:
  • Lynn Common to Lynn Shore Drive: on-street accommodation req'd down 3-1/2 blocks of Market St. + 2000 ft. of waterfront path or Lynnway side path.
  • Kings Beach, Swampscott to Marblehead Rail Trail: 2 blocks of side path on Monument Ave. + 1500-1750 ft. of on-street accommodation on lowish-volume Faragut Rd. and/or Walker Rd.
It's insane that we're this close to contiguity. Even more insane is that if you find a way across downtown Salem from Mill St. trail head to North River you're already connected to Mack Park and Harmony Grove Cemetery (which could use a grade-separated path upgrade to the current Harmony Grove Rd. striped bike lane). Which brings you within 6 blocks of Peabody Square via on-street treatment to Walnut St...and then off to the races on the Danvers Rail Trail. Which in turn will bring you to Newburyport in one direction, North Reading in another, Middleton in another, and when finished Lynnfield/Wakefield in still another direction. To say nothing if whether infill of gaps in those trails brings Haverhill, Wilmington/Tewksbury, and North Andover into the fold off that same Danvers/West Peabody super-junction. We're that close to having ALL the north-of-city trail networks linkified.
 

ceo

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It's insane that we're this close to contiguity. Even more insane is that if you find a way across downtown Salem from Mill St. trail head to North River you're already connected to Mack Park and Harmony Grove Cemetery (which could use a grade-separated path upgrade to the current Harmony Grove Rd. striped bike lane). Which brings you within 6 blocks of Peabody Square via on-street treatment to Walnut St...and then off to the races on the Danvers Rail Trail.
Looks to me like getting to the Danvers Rail Trail will also require converting about 3 miles of the Essex Railroad ROW to a trail as well.
 

Bananarama

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I have a very off the cuff hybrid thought/idea, part crazy transit pitch and part biking in Boston that I want to throw out. And I bet it's been proposed before but...

Foot/bike bridge between Boston proper and East Boston... maybe connecting Long Wharf and Bremam St...

This is coming to mind mainly because I'm remembering how big of a PITA biking over to Deer Island/ Winthrop last month. Why is our road network such a cluster...
The south entry to Evertt is gross, sorry. Maybe give it 50 years... but that industrial wasteland is a huge detractor, and the casino just reminds me of trashy Florida (speaking as a Floridian).
Yeah, I could take the blue line. But an outdoor seamless connection is more ideal. And maybe it'd be a boon for tourism...

Just a quick rambling thought..
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Looks to me like getting to the Danvers Rail Trail will also require converting about 3 miles of the Essex Railroad ROW to a trail as well.
Already planned. Peabody Sq. to Danversport is going to be a trail, including repairs to the Waters River trestle that burned in 1984 severing the active line on either side of the river. Total grade separation to Purchase St. in Danvers, and then it meets up with the Newburyport Branch trail...north to Georgetown and junction of the trail branches to Newburyport & (eventual) Bradford, south to West Peabody and junction of trail branches to North Reading (eventual Wilmington?) and planned Lynnfield/Wakefield.


Peabody/128 commuter rail is still a full-going local advocacy, but on the due-west ex-Salem & Lowell ROW to West Peabody that's now a Peabody Municipal Light power line ROW (city-owned utility sez trails verboten that close to their trunk lines, but rails more than welcome).
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Wad of state grants announced for trails.

  • Sudbury/Bruce Freeman South -- Payout to Town of Sudbury for municipal buy of the CSX ROW at long last from the ongoing-phase Bruce Freeman trail head to the Framingham city line. Still no clue why MassDOT isn't doing this transaction in-house.
  • Springfield - Armory Branch rail trail. This is going to royally piss off ConnDOT, as it runs right alongside the proposed CTrail/Amtrak layover yard that MassDOT was supposed to be paying for as its only non- Springfield Union contribution to the Hartford Line build. And it begins in earnest the salting-away of Hartford-north freight bypass ROW of the Springfield Line that CT has been screaming at MA for >20 years to protect. This has been a weird passive-aggressive battle between the two states ever since Patrick vs. Malloy, ruffled feathers over the failed Berkshire Line passenger proposal, and other assorted chafing going on 10+ years and 2 administrations per state. I mean, City of Springfield is just being opportunistic here with the trail proposal so that's neither here nor there...but such a very odd bit of pissiness between neighbors being waged over such a very mutually-supporting SPG Hub. Disappointing.
  • West Peabody -- Ped bridge over 95/1 in West Peabody conjoining the Independence Greenway segments interrupted by the highways and the very dangerous ex- grade crossing of Route 1. Good one...this is currently a very stinky gap to have to detour around.
  • North Reading -- Extension of Independence Greenway from MA 62 trailhead west along ex- Salem & Lowell ROW to downtown. Distance TBD, but they'd love to eventually be able to infill it to MA 28 within 1 mile of Wilmington town line. (FWIW, if Wilmington can then pick up the baton and bring it to MA 62 right near I-93 Exit 40 the trailhead will only be 1.3 miles on-street to North Wilmington Station.)
  • Arlington -- Connecting trail from Arlington Reservoir to Minuteman (a little past Arlington Heights, near Lexington town line). They're almost in eyesight of each other, but you have to walk across the Hurd Field ballfields on-foot to get there so it's strange there never was a graded path connector.
  • Ashland -- Extension of Upper Charles trail along ex- Hopkinton Branch ROW. Good...this was annoyingly backburnered for the longest time.
  • Yarmouth -- Completion of Cape Cod Rail Trail. You thought this was done already, right??? Yup...believe it or not there is still a 1-mile gap between Station Ave. and N. Main St. even after they did all the interminably delayed bridge work on either sides. This finishes it for-reals this time.
  • Bourne -- "Study" of Falmouth Branch rail-with-trail between Shining Sea Bikeway trailhead and the Canal. a.k.a. MassDOT is throwing a single peanut shell at the NIMBY's who wanted the very-much-active rail line torn out and were too stupid to read up on federal preemption before making asses of themselves in public meetings for most of the last 2 years. I give this one negligible odds of happening, because the ROW crosses so many inlets and has so many impossibly tight-geometry road overpasses there simply isn't practical rail-with-trail room. But maybe this study will provide them with smelling salts for when they get a load of all the rail traffic increases coming to Otis, and the fact that their own House reps are conspiring for ways to subsidize Cape Rail to run some cheapo North Falmouth RDC passenger shuttles to the Buzzards Bay CR extension.
  • Brookline -- "Study" (not much $$$ allocated) for tarting back up the Beacon St. Bridle Path to its Olmstead-intended multiuse glory. Interesting concept, at least.
  • Central Mass Trail infills -- Clinton, Belchertown land acquisition. It's a patch job on all the 1930's-abandonment segments in the middle of the state despite the relatively pristine unencroachment, so they're tackling it town-by-town.
  • Fall River-New Bedford "bikeway" -- Study on infill potential between Westport and New Bedford on the Wattupa Branch. Low-odds because the line is very much active to MA 88 in Westport and would be narrow enough as rail-with-trail to have crummy emergency access from Dartmouth side streets. Hence, the low-odds "study". Looks good on-concept, but the Wattupa is biz-stable to the Westport scrap yard so it's not on anyone's Death Watch list for abandonment next decade.
  • Groton/Townsend -- Greenville Branch trail (active Pan Am-served track ends at Nashua River Bridge near Devens Airport). Another one eons-in-planning most casual observers already thought was done...but actually isn't. Townsend was freight-abandoned in..what...'84, and still has intact trackage. Milford Branch is already trailed from Squannacook Jct. in Groton but the bigger branch to the state line is still malingering in the weeds. NH has a nice trail from state line to Greenville. Appears this is just for Groton-north...they haven't figured out how to connect to Ayer/Shirley through the forest because PAS backs up all the way to the Nashua River trestle after serving the lumber yard by the airport.
  • Lawrence -- Merrimack River trails, downtown to Andover town line. Planning for infillage at long last.
  • Lowell -- Pawtucket St. shared-use path. Merrimack-to-Canal District infillage.
  • Medfield -- Bay Colony trail segment construction. Yup...Dover NIMBY's are still holding this one hostage so contiguous-to-Needham is not yet in the cards.
  • Mattapoisett/Marion -- Extension of Fairhaven Branch trail to I-195. Will allow for final finish-up off-ROW to Town of Wareham river/cove inlet trails.
  • Natick -- Design of Cochituate trail head @ new Natick CR station.
  • Needham-Newton -- Structural evaluation of Charles River rail bridge @ Christina St. (ex- industrial park spur).
 
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ceo

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Ya beat me to it. I was just coming here to post about this.

The description of the Independence Greenway connector mentions a bridge over US-1, but not I-95, but to get between the trailheads listed they're clearly going to have to get over I-95 somehow. I initially thought this was going to connect it to the Danvers Rail Trail, which already goes under I-95 and seems like a more useful connection.

The grant in Belchertown sounds like they're planning to build their stretch of the MCRT as a rail-with-trail along the NECR instead of following the old Central Mass RR route. Which makes sense; I did a group bike ride last fall that went through there, and I can tell you that rehabbing the CMRR route for a bike path would be a lot of work, and large parts of it are completely lost.

I was really glad to see the grant in Clinton to acquire their stretch of the route, including the tunnel. The MassDOT feasibility study of this part of the route indicated it was in poor condition and would require a structural inspection, and proposed an alternate route atop the aqueduct. (The Rutland-to-Hudson segment of the feasibility study is here, the other two sections are supposedly being released any time now.)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Ya beat me to it. I was just coming here to post about this.

The description of the Independence Greenway connector mentions a bridge over US-1, but not I-95, but to get between the trailheads listed they're clearly going to have to get over I-95 somehow. I initially thought this was going to connect it to the Danvers Rail Trail, which already goes under I-95 and seems like a more useful connection.

The grant in Belchertown sounds like they're planning to build their stretch of the MCRT as a rail-with-trail along the NECR instead of following the old Central Mass RR route. Which makes sense; I did a group bike ride last fall that went through there, and I can tell you that rehabbing the CMRR route for a bike path would be a lot of work, and large parts of it are completely lost.

I was really glad to see the grant in Clinton to acquire their stretch of the route, including the tunnel. The MassDOT feasibility study of this part of the route indicated it was in poor condition and would require a structural inspection, and proposed an alternate route atop the aqueduct. (The Rutland-to-Hudson segment of the feasibility study is here, the other two sections are supposedly being released any time now.)
95 has an extant underpass abutting the Lowell St. overpass, so the trail already gets under the expressway. Crossing Lowell St. requires a lot of work because the sightlines are shitty and the Route 1 spaghetti ramps are right across the street...so I don't know how they're going to treat that.

1...yeah, overpass be mandatory. It's hard to picture how this actually worked, but somehow trains did routinely cross all 4 lanes of highway at blind angles until about 1995.

 

ceo

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That's the Danvers Rail Trail, though. The grant is (apparently) for connecting the two sections of the Independence Greenway that are separated by the highways, here.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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That's the Danvers Rail Trail, though. The grant is (apparently) for connecting the two sections of the Independence Greenway that are separated by the highways, here.
Both trails are blocked by 1 so whatever they do it's going to need to accommodate both at some midpoint. Greenway trail has power lines on it elevated over the highways, so they're going to have to go off-footprint to get it done...maybe weaving the Greenway up around the cemetery before attempting to go over.
 

George_Apley

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Wow is right. I ride on Beacon St in Brookline a lot and it is currently NOT a road that anyone but an advanced cyclist would feel comfortable riding on.
 

Bananarama

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Hmm, interesting. Not sure how I feel about this. It seems a little daunting to have the path in the center of the street which then requires people turning onto it to cross car traffic and the train tracks for a west-bound turn. The only example of this I can think of here is down Causeway St.

In all honesty, I would just prefer a more typical swap of the parallel parking spots and the one-way bike lane so it's protected. It works pretty well on Mass Ave in Cambridge, and especially around Comm Ave around BU. And they've already done this along Beacon on the Boston side around Audubon Circle. It's very nice.
 

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