10/24/2014

Supporting and Investing in our Rail Trails

Over the past two decades, the support for rail trail and bike paths has increased dramatically in the Middlesex and Worcester district, and across Massachusetts. Many Metrowest communities have abandoned rail lines that can be transformed into beautiful rail trails that families, bicyclists, senior citizens and young people can enjoy and under the leadership of Governor Patrick and a revitalized Department of Transportation (DOT), state government is now focused on properly investing in recreational trails.

Photo from the bike path along the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

Photo from the bike path along the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

In the district that I represent, there are currently three major rail trails – the Nashua River Rail Trail in Ayer, the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in Westford (and coming to Acton in the next couple of years), and the Assabet River Rail Trail in Marlborough and Hudson (and soon coming to Maynard and Acton…). The advocacy groups supporting the construction of these rail trails has been impressive, to put it mildly.

In a time when suburban sprawl continues, rail trails and bike paths are critical to getting people outside of their houses and exercising, whether walking, running or biking. It’s important to make our community healthier, and combating epidemics like child obesity.

Since I was first elected to the Massachusetts Legislature in 2002, I have fought for more state and federal transportation dollars to go to alternative modes of transportation like rail trails, and moving away from highway construction. Thanks to a transportation finance package that passed the Legislature this session, and the leadership of Governor Patrick, we’re finally seeing more transportation dollars being directed toward the design and construction of rail trails. Testifying at the Transportation Building in downtown Boston (a tradition passed onto me from former State Senator Pam Resor) on many Thursday mornings is paying off.

In the past two years, there has been significant progress on all three rail trails.

As a strong proponent of investing in our communities, improving people’s health, and expanding recreational opportunities for communities in the Middlesex and Worcester district, I’m very proud of the progress being made on rail trails throughout Massachusetts. I am also appreciative of the work of all of the “Friends” groups of the rail trails, who have been incredibly vigilant to see these rail trail projects becoming a reality.

If you live in the communities of Lowell, Chelmsford, Westford, Carlisle, Acton, Concord, Sudbury, and Framingham, visit the Friends of Bruce Freeman Rail Trail website.

If you reside in Acton, Marlborough, Stow, Maynard and Hudson, check out the Friends of Assabet River Rail Trail website.

If you live in Ayer, visit the Friends of Nashua River Rail Trail website.

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