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

737900er

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The Mount Auburn Street entrance to the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway seems to be finally open (perhaps unofficially). Unfortunately it ends at a parking space and a hard curb.

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matredsoxfan5

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Waltham Begins Construction On 2.7-Mile Segment of Mass. Central Rail Trail – StreetsblogMASS

Waltham has begun construction on the $9 Million, 2.7 Mile segment of the Wayside Rail Trail thru town. This project will also include traffic calming on Prospect Hill Road & Hammond Street with raised crosswalks and RRFB's and a RRFB at Bacon St, Full traffic signal at Lexington Street and Hawk Signal at Lyman Street. Also, conduit will be laid underground along the entire route should DCR ever decide to fund lighting of the path.

They are working from the Market Basket end into the city. So far tree clearing and rail removal have been completed to just past Bacon Street.
 
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737900er

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The Cambridge-Watertown Greenway is really nice, but the complete lack of lighting is big middle finger to real commuter usage during the non-summer months.
There are back yards right up against it, so I get why they didn't do lighting.
The poor connections on both ends also deter ridership.
 

737900er

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My guess would be that because it's officially a DCR park it technically closes at dusk/sunset.
 

Arlington

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The path from the Casino northward toward the existing Northern Strand trail now only has a gap of about 200 yards under Rte 16.

the path is complete on the east (rear) of the Costco shopping center and along the west side of the N/Rport CR line, but dead ends at a mound of gravel under the bridge

EDIT: I took a picture from the South looking at the Rte 16 bridge
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F-Line to Dudley

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The path from the Casino northward toward the existing Northern Strand trail now only has a gap of about 200 yards under Rte 16.

the path is complete on the east (rear) of the Costco shopping center and along the west side of the N/Rport CR line, but dead ends at a mound of gravel under the bridge
Needs some additional work under the bridge by MassDOT + MBTA, since there are 2 active stub tracks for the Saugus Branch there going to the T's Commuter Rail ballast pile. The path will be fenced off from that, but they might have to do some work to the drainage channel on the underside of the west side of the 16 overpasse to make it fit.
 

RandomWalk

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E4FEBBF2-6485-4BA9-AB5F-C31861A2D2A6.jpeg

Looks like the Reformatory Branch proposals are coming back up at a fall town meeting in Bedford and the NIMBYs are at it again.

“Cut down trees 30 feet across this path”? I don’t think the plans had a 30 foot clear right of way.
 

BeyondRevenue

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Needs some additional work under the bridge by MassDOT + MBTA, since there are 2 active stub tracks for the Saugus Branch there going to the T's Commuter Rail ballast pile. The path will be fenced off from that, but they might have to do some work to the drainage channel on the underside of the west side of the 16 overpasse to make it fit.
Thanks for the pic, Arlington!
I'll quote my construction buddy: "All I need is wild hair and a Bobcat it'll be passable in an afternoon".
... And It's been that way since May -- not acceptable. Just 200 feet to completion. Honestly, If you don't mind the remote possibility of a misdemeanor, you can ignore the signs and fences. It is mostly passable by foot or even by walking your bike on the makeshift 'trail'.
There is no real reason why this shouldn't be done already
 

Badusername

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Honestly, If you don't mind the remote possibility of a misdemeanor, you can ignore the signs and fences. It is mostly passable by foot or even by walking your bike on the makeshift 'trail'.
I did this, there’s nothing at the Encore side to indicate that the path is closed where the path starts and I wasn’t inclined to double back. The footing is a bit treacherous but it still felt safer and faster than crossing the Revere Beach Parkway.
 

Arlington

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I crossed RBP at the Rotary partly biking in the Rotary. It was for experienced cyclists only. The underpass would have been preferable
 

DuckVillen

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Looks like the Reformatory Branch proposals are coming back up at a fall town meeting in Bedford and the NIMBYs are at it again.
I don't have a backyard anywhere near Bedford, but what is the ostensible purpose of paving the Reformatory? Honestly I like it the way it is -- unpaved, but hard packed and much less rocky than a lot of the other unpaved trails in relatively close range (thinking of the Fells, the Western Greenway, and the "Old Bedford Road" trail by Sandy Pond that continues to Pine Hill in Lincoln). Battle Road is unusable for hard riding because of tourists. The Minuteman is a lot more boring by comparison (I bail at Hartwell Ave on my route that includes the Reformatory even though I'm headed for Somerville).

That is, I think the local dog walkers and others who claim to want to keep the natural surface are probably not just talking through their hats.

The archBoston-y question Is: would a paved Reformatory serve a real transportation function? (That's a real question; I think with e-bikes and net zero commitments we have an opening to reform even the burbs in favor of more bikes and micromobility.)
 
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The EGE

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There's a reasonable argument to be made for the access to Concord - there's a not-insignificant number of jobs clustered around Concord and West Concord, and it provides a CR connection. I'm not sure if there would be much "inbound" demand towards Alewife.
 

RandomWalk

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It’s not just about the transportation purpose, but also the accessibility of a separated route for folks to enjoy Bedford. The paved path is more accessible to folks who just want a lower stress place to move, in a similar manner to the Bruce Freeman trail now.

There is a loosely related project in Concord to do an upgrade of their stretch of the branch which would have a similar benefit. However, the real transportation payoff would come from finding a means to restore the trail all the way out to the Bruce Freeman. That extension would require a bridge over the Sudbury and Assabet rivers or a separated routing along streets.
 

chumbolly

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There is a loosely related project in Concord to do an upgrade of their stretch of the branch which would have a similar benefit. However, the real transportation payoff would come from finding a means to restore the trail all the way out to the Bruce Freeman. That extension would require a bridge over the Sudbury and Assabet rivers or a separated routing along streets.
This will never happen, and I say this as someone who has been involved in planning and funding of projects like this in Concord and having spoken to Concord's town staff about this exact idea. The opposition that would come from the Nashawtuc Hill neighborhood to reestablishing the bridges and having the rail trail pass around the base of the hill would be intense to say the least. It would be like proposing a highway over Beacon Hill--there'd be Superbowl ads in opposition.

I used to occasionally use the Reformatory to bike commute, and at the time it was in pretty bad shape through Concord, so I dreamed of it one day being paved, and being connected to the BFRT as a key element of the regional bike network. In the years since, through the work of really one guy and maybe a handful of others, the trail in Concord has been improved by hand so there's much fewer mud pit sections. Its now pretty easy to bike down, and I've grown to appreciate that there's a case to be made for keeping the trail unpaved as it passes through the national wildlife refuge, though I'd like to see it consistently graded and surfaced with stone dust, more like the Narrow Gauge Rail Trail. Critically, where it passes across Rt. 62 needs to be fixed, and the Bedford plan, if salvaged, would do this.

It's my suspicion that the latest turn-about on paving the trail in Bedford was spurred by folks from Concord. Bedford has consistently supported paving the trail for 10 years, but recently there was talk in Concord that with the improvements coming to the Bedford section and work on the Concord section of the BFRT wrapping up, now it's time to turn to paving the Reformatory in Concord. There are some folks in Concord that live along the Reformatory that are militantly opposed to any project of any kind that cuts any trees, and they freaked out about this talk, and I believe then worked to get people in Bedford opposed to the already-funded Bedford paving plan. The language of the Bedford opposition around clear-cutting is a clear echo of Concord concerns. Unfortunately, the pro-pave folks kept pushing their idea without apparently appreciating that they were poking the bear, and asked for money to study the idea at Town Meeting. This triggered the opponents to propose an article doing the opposite, namely, preserving the trail as is in perpetuity. The former article failed and the latter article passed, and so now it is the established position of Concord that the Reformatory should be left as is. There are some platitudes around making the trail more accessible, but I'll believe it when I see it.

I think the best outcome at this point would be: the Bedford plan is revived and results in a tunnel under Rt. 62, the Concord section gets a stone dust treatment, and one day we get a better connection (maybe rail with trail along the MBTA line from Concord to West Concord?? A fella can dream...) from the existing terminus of the Reformatory at Lowell Road to the BFRT in West Concord.
 

ceo

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I think the best outcome at this point would be: the Bedford plan is revived and results in a tunnel under Rt. 62, the Concord section gets a stone dust treatment, and one day we get a better connection (maybe rail with trail along the MBTA line from Concord to West Concord?? A fella can dream...) from the existing terminus of the Reformatory at Lowell Road to the BFRT in West Concord.
If you're pushing for a rail-with-trail along the Fitchburg, keep going to South Acton to hook up with the ARRT. Dare to dream big. :) Might even be doable; looks like there's 20ish feet of ROW on either side of the tracks.
 

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