Boston MPO Approves Over $8 Million for Bruce Freeman Rail Trail

In a stark contrast from March's Town Meeting, the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization approved earmarking federal funding for Phase 2A of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail along with dozens of other transportation related improvements around Eastern Mas



In a stark contrast to the hours of debate that dominated the , the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization approved $8,788,000 to extend the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail from its current terminus in Westford all the way to near the Acton/Concord border.

The decision came as part of a unanimous board approval on BMPO’s Fiscal Year 2013-2016 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal transportation money for improvements across Eastern Massachusetts.

Although originally money for the Phase 2A portion of the trail was expected to come from the sale of former rail lines along its projected path, the new funding will be coming as part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Green Dot program, more specifically, the Bay State Greenway Project, which aims to connect hundreds of miles of bike paths across the state.

While money for Green DOT had been in planning for years according to Mass DOT deputy planning director Clinton Bench, the specific focus for funds helped make for an easy sell when it came to approving the BFRT extension and other TIP projects.

“I think the reason it feels a little anticlimactic is that the state came forward and said ‘Don’t worry Boston MPO about debating whether this will come out of a regional target, this will come out of statewide regional funds,’ and by virtue of that, the Boston MPO can put it on the TIP without having to debate it with say, another intersection somewhere,” said Bench.

Ultimately, even the word “Bruce Freeman Rail Trail” wasn’t even mentioned until after the money had been approved, where it came up being mentioned from Acton residents enthusiastic for the extension in a separate agenda item.

The only source of contention from audience members during the meeting arose from residents of Medford, who expressed gentrification concerns over the proposed expansion of the Green Line to Route 16 in Medford.

That expansion was approved along with the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail as part of the TIP.

Phase 2A is expected to extend just 1,000 feet short of the Concord Prison rotary, and will more than likely allow for the implementation of the “:" a proposal that would provide a parking lot in Acton along the trail, circumventing the controversy associated with parking in Westford near the trail during the past several months.

Tim Walsh June 29, 2012 at 06:58 PM
This is great news for everyone. Congrats and thanks to the BFRT folks as well as the Town staffs in Westford, Acton Carlisle and Concord who put forth a lot of effort to help inform the process. This will enable greater access for all to the Trail.
Kurt May 30, 2013 at 03:34 AM
No..not everyone. Just vocal trail advocates. This trail is taking the place of what could be a multi-purpose transit corridor that could include a trail as well as a light rail line that would connect almost all of the existing commuter rail lines from Walpole to Lowell in a circumferential loop running between 495 and 128 that would be within walking distance of many town centers, retail and residential areas (Look up Transit Oriented Development on the MAPC website). It will do nothing (as the Minuteman Trail has done nothing) to alleviate the chronic congestion you see on 495 and 128 and all of the roads connecting to them and is an impractical method for long distance commuting (particularly in winter) for the vast majority of workers...unless you believe the MAPC / CTPS "studies" justifying this colossal waste of an irreplaceable transportation corridor. That 8 million would go a long way towards planning for a real transportation alternative to the highway misery most of have no choice but to endure every morning. And yes, the planning is way overdue. If you believe the excuse that this retains the right of way for "future transportation use", you can't see that the "future use" is needed now. This is what happens when a "feel good" project goes on only because it appeals to a small but vocal minority of citizens. It's also what happens when best-use critical analysis of existing transportation resources by state planning organizations is non-existent.
Andrew Sylvia May 30, 2013 at 06:07 AM
That reminds me, forgot to link to the TIP. Here you go, there was $713 million for mass transit projects in there. http://www.ctps.org/Drupal/data/pdf/plans/TIP/FFYs_2013_2016_Final_TIP.pdf
Dan D. May 30, 2013 at 11:32 AM
Kurt is spot on. The only change I'd suggest in his comments is to replace "small but vocal" with "teeny tiny slice of our population who are self centered, vocal and emotional"


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