1835 Dedham spur of Boston & Providence Railroad is opened
1967 last train runs
1999 Town purchases corridor for $1.5M
2002 Rail Corridor is capped by Dedham Department of Public works with oversight from the Mass Dept. of Environmental Protection as a “first step” in a “rails-to-trails” project.
2009 Open Space Plan recommends the rail trail.
2009 Dedham Master Plan recommends the rail trail.
2013 Dedham/Westwood Bicycle & Pedestrian Network Plan includes the proposed rail trail.
2013 May Town Meeting voted to appropriate $10,000 for the conceptual plan that was done by the Rails to Trails Conservancy.
2014 (February) 1st Public Meeting
2014 Presentations to School Committee, MBCG & Park and Recreation
2014 (October) 2nd Public Meeting
2015 (February) 3rd Public Meeting
2015 (April) 4th Public Meeting/Abutters only
2016 (spring) Board of Selectmen vote to accept donations raised by the Friends of the DHRT that would help fund the hiring of Weston & Sampson to create the Feasibility Study.
2017 Feasibility Study is completed.
2018 May Town Meeting, Article 19 - which would pay for a traffic study around the schools and the hiring of a consultant to help the Board of Selectmen set up a process for deciding on the rail trail project, is voted down 146 to 105. The town loses a $50K grant that would have offset the costs of the traffic study work.
2018 November Town Meeting, the traffic study is approved for the full price of $90K.
2019 Support for the trail among residents remains strong. The public survey and workshops that were done to inform the Open Space and Parks & Recreation Master Plans, showed that support for the rail trail/walkability/bike-ability amenities was overwhelming. The rail trail is still a recommended priority in the 2019 Open Space Master Plan update.
What next?? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to help this effort! There are many ways to help - from simply hosting a yard sign, to doing some amount of volunteer time. Any and all help is welcomed!
Your involvement is the ONLY way this will happen.
More about the trail…
The proposed rail trail would be sited on town owned land primarily under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen. The area around the schools is under the jurisdiction of the School Committee.
The trail would involve construction of one bridge over River Street and a switchback or tunnel at Mt. Vernon Street in order to reconnect pieces of the formerly continuous rail corridor. See map below for details on key areas.
A glimpse of what Dedham's Rail Trail could look like, these renderings are overlaid on actual route locations.
Funding the Rail Trail:
There are thousands of miles of rail trails across the country. In Massachusetts alone, over 70 towns/cities have transformed their blighted abandoned rail corridors into recreational assets and there are hundreds of projects breaking ground around the state and New England - expanding existing trails and creating new trails. Where does the funding come from for these projects?
Costs for construction can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the trail and funding can come from a variety of sources. Some towns opt for a stonedust surface which is lower cost. Some trails include lighting and recreation installations. Most of the larger scale, paved paths in Massachusetts have been funded through the MassDOT Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). These include some of the most famous trails such as the Minuteman Bike Path and Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. Because Dedham is considering a paved path - and the ideal path would include a tunnel and two bridges to make it truly safe and separate from traffic, the town would seek funding from the MassDOT.
You can find a full list of MassDOT funded bikepaths/rail trails here: http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/ProjectInfo.aspx
The Dedham Heritage Rail Trail would go through the same steps as these other projects in order to be put in the queue for MassDOT funding. These steps include: a Feasibility Study conducted by a consultant; a Design/Engineering Plan completed by an engineering firm; Construction of the trail completed by a contractor.
Where is Dedham in the Funding Process?
Dedham has funded the Feasibility Study. Weston & Sampson was the firm hired to do the work and the study has been completed.
The funding for the Feasibility Study came from the following sources:
$8,000 from Mass Board of Health (grant)
$2,000 from Dedham Land Trust (grant)
$3,000 from Environmental Department budget (town money)
$3,000 from Planning Department budget (town money)
$2,500* from Dedham Savings Bank (grant)
$2,500* from individual supporter donations
*Funds secured by the Friends of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail in support of the Feasibility Study.
Total: $21,000 of which approximately $6,000 came from the town
The funding for the Design/Engineering plan will come from a combination of grants and from the town. The Town had been awarded a $50K Department of Conservation and Recreation grant however, the negative vote in May 2019 caused the State to rescind that money.
Once we demonstrate clearly that a majority of residents want this trail - then further grants will be pursued. We need you in this process.
The design funding would be the only cost the town would need to cover in order to receive the full construction funding from the MassDOT. After construction, the trail maintenance would be the responsibility of the town. These trails are typically not high maintenance and are well worth the return on investment in terms of increased quality of life for residents. Community groups such as the Friends of the DHRT can help with clean ups and plantings and reduce the routine maintenance costs.
The design cost is still being determined but a rough estimate is $400K. The final cost of construction is also being finalized. That will depend on what additional features are wanted i.e. extra access points, switchbacks. The rough estimate is $5M - to be funded by the MassDOT NOT Dedham Taxpayers.