Wayside Rail Trail
Eversource is preparing to conduct major work on its Access Road Improvement Project, which is located within the MBTA abandoned railroad property and existing Eversource right-of-way just north of Route 20. This work will include removing the old rails and ties of the former Mass Central Rail line and creating a 16-foot wide gravel drive to allow access for its maintenance of the existing electric transmission structures.
Mass. DCR Involvement
The Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has filed a funding request with the state to pave the Eversource gravel access road in order to create a 10-foot wide, multi-use greenway as part of the Mass Central Rail Trail - Wayside. The Wayside Rail Trail will run from Berlin to Waltham, including the three-mile stretch in Weston.
The abandoned railroad property was leased to the DCR by the MBTA in 2011, giving jurisdiction of the abandoned rail line to the DCR for 99 years. Eversource has a right of way access because of its power lines within the corridor. Weston does not own this land but does have Conservation Land and trails running along the state's property.
Eversource and the DCR filed a joint Notice of Intent with Weston's Conservation Commission. That permit was issued in June and Eversource is now working towards the construction phase, which is anticipated to begin in mid-September and run to December of 2017.
What Does This Mean for Weston?
With news of Eversource’s project, the Board of Selectmen appointed the Rail Trail Advisory Committee to determine how best to accommodate the Wayside Rail Trail in Weston and preserve Weston's historic assets along the way. Please note, the committee is not overseeing or partnering with Eversource and the DCR. Its charge is explained on its committee web page and its work is separate from the Eversource and DCR project.
An engineering study for the Conant Road underpass has been initiated. These plans have been turned over to the state to review. The planning firm Utile has also been retained to help with parking and access issues, as well as to assist with public outreach through public forums.
Residents who are interested in how Weston will accommodate the Wayside Rail Trail, are encouraged to follow the Rail Trail Advisory Committee.
A public, charette-style hearing has been scheduled for September 19th at 7:00 p.m. in Town Hall. The committee's planning consultant, Utile, will be in attendance to gather resident input and feedback with regard to signage, access, parking, and screening.
To follow progress, residents should subscribe to receive the following email/text notifications:
- Latest Town News (News Flash)
- Rail Trail Advisory Committee (Agendas & Minutes)