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Tewksbury Rail Trail Board Releases Feasibility Study

Jul 16, 2015 02:23PM ● Published by Bill Gilman

The Feasibility Study has been unveiled. Now town officials will need to answer the question -- is the proposed Tewksbury Rail Trail project actually feasible.
Members of the Tewksbury Rail Trails Board of Directors met with the Board of Selectmen, to provide an overview of the study and talk about the next steps in a lengthy process they hope will culminate with construction of a new recreational resource for walkers, runners and cyclists.
"It's a big step but there's a long way to go," said Pete Miller, chairman of the TRT board.

(Editor's note: The TRT Board Powerpoint Presentation is attached to this article, in its entirety, in downloadable PDF form.)

The Feasibility Study, paid for with Community Preservation Act funds, was put together by the firm Fay, Spofford and Thorndike. According to TRT board member Jayne Miller, it was compiled, in part, using information gathered at a TRT open house, attended by more than 75 residents at Tewksbury High School over the winter.
The study divides the proposed project into two sections. The first, and most costly, is a 1.75 mile, paved trail, following an abandoned rail line from the Wamesit section of Tewksbury (Capital Avenue), all the way to the Senior Center on Chandler Street.
The shared-use trail would be 10-feet wide and would include five places where the trail crossed an existing road.
There are also areas where the trail runs very close to, or in some cases over, private property, which leads to the next step in the project.
"The next big thing is the title search," said Jayne Miller. "Would we need to buy land? What easements are needed?"
The price tag for the paved trail would be $1.1 million. Pete Miller said funding could come from a variety of sources, including CPA funds and various grant programs.
The second section is referred to in the study as a Greenway Trail, running from the intersection of Maple Street and East Street, all the way to South Street. The Greenway Trail would require much less work, as it would follow along existing pathways. Much of it has been overgrown and will need to be cut back and cleaned out.
Estimated costs associated with the Greenway Trail include $50,000 for trailhead parking areas, $16,000 for on-road bike trail improvements, $125,000 for establishment of a Greenway Path from Shawsheen Street to Regina S Drive, $5,000 for on-road bike trail improvements from Regina S Drive to South Street and $10,000 to establish a trailhead at the Senior Center.
According to Jayne Miller, the two sections have the potential to connect several key locations in the community.
"There's a lot of good connectivity in the phased uses as we go (along)," she said. "Connecting the Senior Center, the baseball fields, the soccer fields, the hospital."
The two sections of trails would potentially be linked by pathways going across state-owned land, mostly on the grounds of Tewksbury Hospital.
While Tewksbury Rail Trails will be looking for town boards to sign off on the projects, the final decision will rest in the hands of Town Meeting voters, who would need to approve any funding plans.
As an aside, Jayne Miller said Tewksbury Rail Trails is looking for additional members to serve on its Board of Directors. If you are interested, email Jayne at Tewksburyrailtrails@gmail.com

(Editor's Note: Click here for the complete Tewksbury Rail Trails Feasibility Study in  PDF format.)


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