Rail Trail Project Construction Begins!

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May 012015

Thanks to the enthusiastic support of hundreds of Needham families, the hard work of a core group of volunteers and the professionalism and focus of Town staff, work has begun in the rail trail project. In this phase, rails and ties are getting removed by construction contractor McConnell Enterprises of Braintree. The removal process is expected to take about three weeks.

Photos from the first week below:


Remarkable News: The State Steps Up

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Jan 152014

Last night at the Needham Board of Selectmen meeting, our state representative Denise Garlick announced that the state had evaluated our request for funding the trail more closely, and determined that we qualified for the full $70,000 originally requested.

dgarlickIn November, Rep. Garlick received preliminary word that the State would fund $40,000 of our request. However, at the Ways and Means Committee meeting on this subject, it was determined that the project is well structured and the needs clearly defined, so the State actually increased the amount it would contribute to our project.

This is incredible news: it means that we are at 92% of our goal – within $18,000. This provides enough confidence that we can begin planning for the trail project itself, as early as this summer.

There is still more to do, of course, and the trailheads at High Rock and Charles River Streets would add considerable value, once we identify additional funding.

But in the meantime, thanks to Rep. Garlick, who has been steadfast in her support of the project, we are within spitting distance of getting the trail started!

Nov 052013

HighRock_400Last night Needham Town Meeting members voted almost unanimously to approve both articles related to the rail trail project. This means that the town may now enter into the lease with the MBTA for the right of way between Needham Junction and the Charles River at the Dover line.

Now the only thing remaining before the construction can begin is raising $235,000.

On that front, things are going well indeed. With help from the matching grant, we have raised an additional $33,008 in the past month. The benefactor has extended the grant two more days, so if you haven’t contributed yet there’s still time to double your impact.

This brings the total raised to date to a remarkable $100,421.

More Good News

Last night we announced that BCRTA has received a grant from another local family foundation, which will cover Phase 2 of the project, the $35,000 cost of the stone dust surface. With total funding and pledges of $135,421, it means that we have just under $100,000 left – we’re more than halfway there!

More To Come

Now with Town Meeting approval, we hope and expect local businesses to step up their support. Initial discussions with several established and well-known stores have gone well. Watch this space for more updates.

Finally, our State Representative Denise Garlick is working on funding at the State House. Two years ago, she added $250,000 to a State transportation bond bill for the entire rail trail, and received news last night – just before Town Meeting – that the $40,000 of that total will likely be made available soon for the Needham portion of the project.

Rail trail in 2014!

Inspiration from Neighbor: Newton Gets a Path

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Oct 172013

As many of you know, the City of Newton has also been working on a rail trail project very much like ours in Needham, which they call the Newton Upper Falls Greenway.

Map of Upper Falls Greenway. Click to enlarge

Map of Upper Falls Greenway. Click to enlarge

On Friday afternoon, October 25th, beginning at 1:00 pm at the Depot on Oak and Chestnut Streets, Newton will be holding a ceremonial ground-breaking kickoff event for its project, and they have invited all interested to attend. Anticipated speakers include Mayor Warren, Secretary of Transportation Davey, Representatives, Aldermen, and the Upper Falls Area Council.

Also at the event, there will be hot Green Tea on the Greenway and egg drop soup courtesy of Taam China, the local Kosher Chinese restaurant.  Also for fun, Newton volunteer rail riders are planning to bring their self-propelled cars to offer final rides on this mile of track before it makes way for the new pedestrian and bicycle trail.

Inspiration for Needham

In some ways, it has been easier in Newton – simpler landscape so no fencing or wetlands concerns; almost twice the number of tracks along their segment, which will fund a stone dust surface; and the City will be covering other expenses. But the process is otherwise similar, and local volunteers have done an amazing job to stir up support to create this trail in an astonishingly short amount of time. As with Needham, enthusiastic support from officials, including Needham’s own Bob Rooney (Newton’s Chief Operating Officer) has helped enormously.

It will be great to have a local example for our project. Besides this kickoff event, we’ll hold one or more trail walks on the Newton path once it’s complete for inspiration.

Our congratulations go out to Newton, especially the primary organizers George Kirby, Jerry Reilly, Jim Lerner and many others who – like the BCRT Needham Faithful – have made this happen.