Monday, February 22, 2016

Assabet River Rail Trail - 2016 News

A long write-up of years of progress and current walkability and rideability on the Assabet River Rail Trail is posted at this blog ( as a June 2013 entry. The content below is about the construction plans for 2016-18.  
Two stacks of railroad ties block the trail at the north end of Maynard. If
walking north, possible to safely get around the first one, but at the second,
will need to detour west (left) through the parking lot, then northward on
Acton street, in order to avoid the second stack and the construction.

NOTE: As of January 2016 the section at the north side of Maynard (north of Concord Street) is difficult to walk, as there was a storm sewer pipe installation in 2015 which left the Trail blocked. See photo.  

NOTE: Bids accepted Sept 2015, opened February 23, 2016. Six bids received, with range $6.7 to $10.4 million dollars. According to the timeline, construction will start June 2016, all paving done in late 2017, and  project completed (fencing. landscaping, etc.) in early 2018.

The Assabet River Rail Trail website has posted the latest blueprints for the rail trail section to go from the Acton train station to the White Pond Road Bridge at the Maynard:Stow border. This phase does not include extending into Stow on what is known as "Track Road," although that unpaved road will remain open to walkers and bicyclists. The accepted bid's budget for this 3.4 mile section of the trail in Acton and Maynard was $6.7 million dollars. See plans at:

Signs in Stow, Maynard and Acton. 
The 32-page PDF document starts at the west end. The first part of each page is an overhead view of the proposed trail. The second part of each page is the side view, showing change in elevation.

No surprises. Most of it is 12 foot wide, paved, with 2 foot stone dust shoulders. Parts have a flanking fence and/or a drainage ditch ("swale") on one side or both. Sections through the center of Maynard are narrowed to ten feet wide - a few squeezed spots to only eight feet wide.

PERMITS: Permitting has been completed on Section 91, the Wetlands Protection Act, the Clean Water Act Section 404(ACOE) and Section 401(WQC). Those abbreviations are Army Corp Of Engineers and Water Quality Certification, respectively. Section 91 calls for retaining public access to waterfront. Section 404 addresses any land subjected to dredging or filling. If wetlands are destroyed, there has to be compensation via construction of an equivalent wetlands area elsewhere.

Surveyors' stakes along the Trail. Numbers
are distance in feet from Stow end.
There will be a small parking lot at Ice House Landing, just off Winter Street, near the Department of Public Works (Maynard). This will also serve people planning to put a canoe or kayak into the Assabet River. It will not be possible to put in a boat from a trailer. Small parking lots will also be at the end of Sylvia Street (Acton) and off Maple Street (Acton). Mid-town Maynard has metered parking adjoining the trail and free parking in a lot across from the movie theater.

The south end of this planned section connects to White Pond Road, in the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge has a parking lot on White Pond Road, and allows bicycling on about half of its 15 miles of trails.

According to the plans, sites along the Assabet River Rail Trail will have benches, bicycle racks and information kiosks. Some parking spaces will be lost in the municipal lot behind CVS and the Outdoor Store, and in the parking lot behind the Post Office.

This does not complete the Assabet River Rail Trail. The south end (Marlborough and most of Hudson) was paved years ago, but the completion of this north end will still leave the middle four miles unfinished. From the White Pond Bridge on the Maynard:Stow border it is possible to walk or bike on a dirt road ("Track Road") past Sudbury Road, in Stow, almost to Lake Boon, but no farther, as there is no bridge over the Assabet River. Any connection between north and south is years away.

Options under consideration are continuing on the original railroad right of way - difficult because there are currently private landowners along that route that have no interest in selling their land - or detouring south through the center of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge and then west in Sudbury.

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