Concord – The Patrick-Murray Administration has announced that the Executive Office of Transportation has awarded $500,000 in Transportation Enhancements funding for final design of phase 2A of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.
The Executive Office of Transportation was able to allocate this design funding shortly after the Massachusetts Highway Department completed construction of the rail trail’s Phase 1, a 6.8-mile shared-use path that connects Lowell, Chelmsford and Westford. When completed, the 25-mile Bruce Freeman Rail Trail will span eight Massachusetts communities with more than a quarter million residents, and connect with three MBTA commuter rail lines in Lowell, West Concord and Framingham.
“As we prepare to launch a new transportation organization Nov. 1, this award demonstrates our overall commitment to improving the Transportation Enhancements Program and to strengthening bicycle and pedestrian access in every corner of the commonwealth,” said Transportation Secretary James A. Aloisi Jr. “The transportation investments we make should promote choice, healthy recreation and support stronger communities.”
“Earlier this summer we celebrated the opening of Phase 1 of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, which is now providing a scenic and safe way to get to and from work, exercise or simply take in a beautiful day,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “Today’s exciting announcement will further extend the trail, and also further extends the federal and state partnerships with the many local volunteers, community activists and leaders who have long worked to make the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail a reality.”
The towns of Westford, Carlisle and Acton completed the preliminary design to qualify for Transportation Enhancements funding for the final design; once that is completed, Phase 2A will be ready for construction. This segment of the trail will extend from the end of BFRT Phase 1 in Westford south through Westford, Carlisle and Acton. Phase 2A will extend approximately 4.8 miles and will entail the rehabilitation and re-use of six existing railroad bridges along the corridor.
“As a legislator for the Acton area for seven years, I have been so proud of the efforts of municipal staff, elected officials, and the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail to will this rail trail into reality. I am deeply appreciative of the Executive Office of Transportation’s support for the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, as the Patrick administration continues to show its support for alternative transportation across the commonwealth,” said state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton.
“I am pleased that Phase 2 of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail is being awarded $500,000 for the second phase of this important recreational project. The Executive Office of Transportation is to be commended for recognizing the importance of this trail to bikers and pedestrians alike, who have been using the first phase of the trail all summer long. I have heard nothing but positive reviews from the citizens who have been enjoying the completed section of the trail,” said state Rep. James Arciero, D-Westford.
“This is a wonderful project for the entire region. It provides for safe cycling for families and an environmental commuting alternative,” said state Rep. Jennifer Benson, D-Lunenburg. “I am thrilled this project has received the support it deserves.”
“What wonderful news it is to hear of this recent approval of funding for the next phase of the trail. I deeply thank those parties whose collaborative efforts have made this funding source possible and I look forward to using the trail,” said state Rep. Cory Atkins, D-Concord.
The Towns of Westford, Carlisle and Action with the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, all worked collaboratively with the Executive Office of Transportation to make Phase 2A a strong contender to receive Transportation Enhancement funding.
“I am delighted that the Towns of Acton, Carlisle and Westford have received the $500,000 Transportation Enhancements funding for the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail,” said Roland Bartl, Acton’s Director of Planning. “This is a good day for bicycling and pedestrian transportation in our region. After the recent opening of Phase 1 of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in Lowell, Chelmsford and Westford, this funding maintains the momentum and enthusiasm among the region’s residents for the trail and its eventual completion all the way into Framingham.
Tom Michelman, president of the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, added: “The Friends are absolutely delighted that the Statewide Transportation Enhancement funds have been designated to further the design of Phase 2A of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (BFRT). Since the opening of Phase 1 of the BFRT on Aug. 29, the trail has been wildly popular. We know when the next segment of the trail is built it too quickly will become a cherished public resource as a safe transportation corridor for bicyclists, walkers and other non-motorized users. We appreciate the support the BFRT has received from our local, state and federal elected officials and the local, regional, state and federal employees who worked diligently to build Phase 1 and now today to release the funds for design of the next trail phase.”
The Transportation Enhancements program is a federal program that funds community-based projects with the goal of increasing travel choice and improving the cultural and environmental character of the transportation system. Eligible TE projects fall into 12 categories that comprise bicycle and pedestrian facilities, streetscape improvements, historic transportation facilities, cultural facilities, and environmental improvements for the transportation system. Transportation Enhancement funding supports important non-traditional and innovative transportation infrastructure projects that might not otherwise obtain funding. Pedestrian and bicycling improvements are an especially high priority as the commonwealth seeks to expand healthy travel options and sustainable transportation.
The Executive Office of Transportation manages the Transportation Enhancements program, and has been working to transform the program into a more robust and effective program based on national best practices.