The Bay Colony Rail Trail (BCRT) is a proposed 7-mile multi-use trail through the towns of Needham, Dover and Medfield. The goal of the BCRT project is to construct a multi-use trail (or rail trail) along the unused section of railroad Right-of-Way (ROW) owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). An overview map of the regional BCRT corridor is shown at right (click map for larger version).
The proposed path will replace the abandoned railway corridor, most recently operated by the Bay Colony Railroad.
The Bay Colony Rail Trail presents a compelling opportunity to create a natural community resource. The proposed path traverses three communities linking residential areas to business districts, public transportation, schools, recreation areas. At least half the distance runs through conservation land such as the Needham Town Forest and Dover’s Wylde Woods.
The Bay Colony Rail Trail is also part of a much larger network in Eastern Massachusetts that in the future will provide hundreds of miles of loosely interconnected trails within two miles of over a million people.
Bay Colony Rail Trail Needham
The Town of Needham is interested in the potential to convert the available abandoned railroad corridors into shared-use recreational paths. The more immediate opportunity is the almost 2-mile stretch between Needham Junction and the Charles River, generally referred to as the Southern Section, in contrast to the Northern Section that runs from Needham Heights to the Charles River at the Newton Line. The Northern Section is a future possibility, with the timing dependent on many factors including planned construction to widen Route 128/95, which will remove the bridge over the highway.
The Southern Section of ROW forms a north to south spine from the natural areas along the Charles River to the Town Forest, with on-road connections and potential future multi-use trail extensions to the Needham Junction commercial area and commuter rail station. Reclaiming the unused section of ROW for a multi-use trail will enhance the overall quality of life and livability of the Town by promoting:
- Increased health and wellness: a trail gives residents of varying ages and physical abilities the chance to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
- Environmentally friendly transportation alternative: a trail provides a viable, safe and green transportation route.
- Enhanced open space protection: trails preserve and maintain natural settings.
- Stronger civic pride and community identity: trails help to define “livable” towns and connect them to each other; help unite people with varying physical abilities; and aid in preservation of local history.