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

chumbolly

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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.
There's actually some interesting trail options between West Concord and South Acton that are close to, but not on, the MBTA ROW. People are looking into making this ARRT/BFRT connection. If you can get to Old Stow Road where it crosses the Fitchburg Line, there's trails through old industrial lands to River Street in Acton. That would make for a very nice ride. I've done it a few times on a road bike with wide tires, so it's doable but not commute-able now.
 
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tysmith95

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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.
Any way to connect it to the Bruce Freeman trail?
 

The EGE

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Reusing the rail ROW west of Lowell Road is unlikely - it would need two substantial river crossings, reroutings around several houses, and some way to get around Route 2 and MCI Concord to reach the Bruce Freeman. Most plausible would be bikeway on the west side of Keyes Street, on-street in downtown Concord, and following the Fitchburg Line (plenty of ROW width, though still 2 river crossings) to West Concord.
 
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RandomWalk

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The rivers mean that there are no options between Barretts Mill Rd and downtown Concord to route it on roads to get around Route 2.

If they could work a deal with Concord Academy, they might be able to route it near the river down to Nashawtuc Rd. That might be a little more palatable to the residents who might flip their lids at a bikeway eating up a chunk of Main St.

It is still well into crazy bike pitch territory, and I think the NSRL will land before this even approaches sharrows on pavement.
 

FK4

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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.
It’s absurd and insane that we have such weak centralized govt that a neighborhood association or even a municipality has any day over a state-level transportation project (which any rail rail or bike trail that crosses town lines should be). It’s dispiriting to consider how much deep, structural change is needed, everywhere and anywhere you look.

In terms of the paving, I’m actually in agreement, though; it’s a very nice trail as is and it’s way better than it was many years ago (I’ve wondered why, so it’s nice to know from this post I’m not crazy and those mud pits have been filled in on purpose). But it’s a woodsy and bucolic trail and not every single trail needs to be a full bore accessible commuter bike highway with asphalt. Regrade it and lay down crushed stone and you’ll maintain a more natural vibe and make it easier on bicycling.

As for # of jobs and commuting… I think it’s emblematic as to how laughable it is the way people sometimes try to use fake data to support transit projects. This project should be done because it’s a rail ROW that connects to other rail trails. We don’t need to pretend that this project is going to boost employment, be flooded with commuter cyclists who otherwise would be driving, or lower the carbon footprint of the state. Those are all nice goals and achievable ones, but not by this project. Not every project needs to check every single progressive box, every time.
 

HenryAlan

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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
In theory, you can ride in the bus lanes, but I find the sidewalk option far more practical. I'd say it's even the encouraged bike route, since the bike lane approach on Broadway feeds directly on to the sidewalk. That said, I don't much care for biking on sidewalks, even when they are not heavily used by pedestrians.
 

ceo

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It’s absurd and insane that we have such weak centralized govt that a neighborhood association or even a municipality has any day over a state-level transportation project (which any rail rail or bike trail that crosses town lines should be).
Go look up the Inner Belt and Southwest Corridor proposals for an example of what can happen when a state transportation agency has the power to stomp all over local communities (though they were thwarted in this case).
 

BeyondRevenue

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Go look up the Inner Belt and Southwest Corridor proposals for an example of what can happen when a state transportation agency has the power to stomp all over local communities (though they were thwarted in this case).
True. A sense of history is important but it shouldn’t cripple us. I am wondering when the angrily swung pendulum will get unstuck from the No Action At All wall and swing back toward the Get Shit Done side.
 

Charlie_mta

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True. A sense of history is important but it shouldn’t cripple us. I am wondering when the angrily swung pendulum will get unstuck from the No Action At All wall and swing back toward the Get Shit Done side.
I feel the same. Not to get political, but I see countries like China and others developing infrastructure, up to and including entire new cities, at a rapid pace, while here in the US it seems exceedingly difficult to get anything done. Hopefully soon we'll realize those other countries are leaving us behind in the dust.
 

bakgwailo

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I feel the same. Not to get political, but I see countries like China and others developing infrastructure, up to and including entire new cities, at a rapid pace, while here in the US it seems exceedingly difficult to get anything done. Hopefully soon we'll realize those other countries are leaving us behind in the dust.
I'd point out that things like OSHA don't exist, and building codes a bit more lax to put things lightly.
 

BeyondRevenue

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I feel the same. Not to get political, but I see countries like China and others developing infrastructure, up to and including entire new cities, at a rapid pace, while here in the US it seems exceedingly difficult to get anything done. Hopefully soon we'll realize those other countries are leaving us behind in the dust.
For trails and roads, I would put our version of cement up against the Chinese version any day. While the PRC pace is impressive, the quality is not. Also they have a disposable, fractionally-waged workforce. They use to have a seemingly endless money supply but I guess somebody finally picked up a calculator and that might be coming to an end.
 

Stlin

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I feel the same. Not to get political, but I see countries like China and others developing infrastructure, up to and including entire new cities, at a rapid pace, while here in the US it seems exceedingly difficult to get anything done. Hopefully soon we'll realize those other countries are leaving us behind in the dust.
Also worth noting that in China the land is officially owned by the government, and therefore property rights only really attach to the structure and it's contents. Therefore forced expropriation for infrastructure needs is, while controversial, considerably cheaper and easier than in the west.
 

bakgwailo

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I'll also point out that there have been some pretty horrific accidents on their rail/high speed rail networks, and a lot of building failures. I think the more apples to apples comparison in Asia would be Japan/South Korea/Singapore/Taiwan and maybe HK to some extent, plus European costs of building.
 

FK4

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Go look up the Inner Belt and Southwest Corridor proposals for an example of what can happen when a state transportation agency has the power to stomp all over local communities (though they were thwarted in this case).
Those are two examples. You could also look up the incredible transportation systems of the major metropolitan areas of Europe, all of which would’ve been shot down by local community input. I get that there’s always a tension between the individual good and the greater good but at the end of the day, major regional decisions do have some losers no matter what. I’d say the European way makes a hell of a lot more sense than the unmitigated disaster of Boston transportation.
 

ceo

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The DCR held a public webinar last night to take comments and questions about the current planning for the segment of the Mass Central Rail Trail between Prospect Hill Park in Waltham and the start of the completed MCRT in Weston just over the bridge. Unfortunately I missed the main part of the meeting, signing in at the start of the Q&A. The presentation and recording are here. Some highlights:
  1. The I-95 crossing will use the existing railroad bridge.
  2. As part of the general reconstruction of the area, Green St will be extended south to tie into the I-95/US20 interchange, and that will become the access from MA117 to I-95. The trail will cross the extended Green St. at a HAWK signal.
  3. As part of the same project, Stow St. will end in a circle just short of 117, so it can no longer be used to get between 20 and 117. The trail will make a neat little S-curve around the circle. It will then go along the north side of 117 for a short distance before meeting the existing trail.
  4. The truss bridge over the Fitchburg Line is officially closed due to structural concerns. They fenced it off and the fence was cut through within a day. The bridge will be reused for the MCRT.
  5. All of this is in a preliminary planning stage.
 

FK4

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The DCR held a public webinar last night to take comments and questions about the current planning for the segment of the Mass Central Rail Trail between Prospect Hill Park in Waltham and the start of the completed MCRT in Weston just over the bridge. Unfortunately I missed the main part of the meeting, signing in at the start of the Q&A. The presentation and recording are here. Some highlights:
  1. The I-95 crossing will use the existing railroad bridge.
  2. As part of the general reconstruction of the area, Green St will be extended south to tie into the I-95/US20 interchange, and that will become the access from MA117 to I-95. The trail will cross the extended Green St. at a HAWK signal.
  3. As part of the same project, Stow St. will end in a circle just short of 117, so it can no longer be used to get between 20 and 117. The trail will make a neat little S-curve around the circle. It will then go along the north side of 117 for a short distance before meeting the existing trail.
  4. The truss bridge over the Fitchburg Line is officially closed due to structural concerns. They fenced it off and the fence was cut through within a day. The bridge will be reused for the MCRT.
  5. All of this is in a preliminary planning stage.
That’s so great about Green St. The Stow St thing is so dumb and cumbersome to get to 117 (and incidentally im headed there right now). Makes much, much more sense for access.
 

FK4

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The DCR held a public webinar last night to take comments and questions about the current planning for the segment of the Mass Central Rail Trail between Prospect Hill Park in Waltham and the start of the completed MCRT in Weston just over the bridge. Unfortunately I missed the main part of the meeting, signing in at the start of the Q&A. The presentation and recording are here. Some highlights:
  1. The I-95 crossing will use the existing railroad bridge.
  2. As part of the general reconstruction of the area, Green St will be extended south to tie into the I-95/US20 interchange, and that will become the access from MA117 to I-95. The trail will cross the extended Green St. at a HAWK signal.
  3. As part of the same project, Stow St. will end in a circle just short of 117, so it can no longer be used to get between 20 and 117. The trail will make a neat little S-curve around the circle. It will then go along the north side of 117 for a short distance before meeting the existing trail.
  4. The truss bridge over the Fitchburg Line is officially closed due to structural concerns. They fenced it off and the fence was cut through within a day. The bridge will be reused for the MCRT.
  5. All of this is in a preliminary planning stage.
Do you know of any concrete info on current state of the trail in Hudson/Berlin and also the Weston/Wayland sections? The ppt on the link you shared says 'work is currently underway' but I cant find anything recent regarding this online...
 

ceo

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The MCRT through Weston and Wayland is complete, it opened a couple years ago. Eversource finally has the green light to start putting in their transmission line on the Sudbury-Hudson stretch, but that (and the MCRT on top of it) won't be done for a couple years. I can't find any information on what's going on with the Hudson segment, but Berlin is actively planning theirs, including rehabilitating the tunnel.
 

RandomWalk

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Took a walk along the Reformatory Branch this weekend. The signs are thick advocating rejection of the bike path enhancements, and using a cute cartoon turtle to tug at the heart strings. There is practically a billboard right at the Concord town line.
 
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