Adapted from the Town of Dedham website.

What is the width of the proposed trail?
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) publishes a Guide for the Design of Bicycle Facilities. That guide recommends a minimum width of 10 feet for multi-use paths. Each of the two shoulders is 2 feet wide for a total width of 14 feet.

Who would maintain the trail? 
The Town has the primary responsibility for maintaining the Rail Trail, along with the assistance of the Friends of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail, and local businesses such as L.L. Bean and Whole Foods that would adopt it as their annual community service project.  Ample opportunities exist to find more volunteer groups as well, such as local scouting groups, and high school student groups looking to fulfill community service requirements.

Would pets be allowed on the trail?
Dogs would be allowed on the trail, but must be leashed and owners are required to pick up after their dogs. Mutt mitts will be provided along with receptacles along the trail.

Will the trail have lights?
Lighting is currently under consideration.

What is the design process?
The purpose of this project is to construct a multi-use trail within an existing railroad right-of-way. Recognizing that some abutters may want some screening, individual abutters in Phase 1 would be interviewed prior to completion of the preliminary (25%) design to find out their concerns. Shrubbery and fencing would then be added to the design. Abutters will have further opportunity to comment on the design during public hearings for the 25% and 75% designs.

Is the corridor contaminated?
In 2011, the MBTA did a major clean up of the rail yards down by Readville - where any major industrial contamination would be more likely. The train on the Dedham spur was primarily for commuters and was not likely to have carried hazardous waste or industrial materials.
The rail ties are removed in all but a small area of the Dedham side and there is a pile of them near River St. Those would be removed as part of this project. They are old rail ties and it is extremely unlikely that ties from prior to 2012 would be characterized as hazardous.
The Avery school was built on the same corridor and required large amounts of digging and earth moving of the dirt from the corridor. That process was overseen and managed by the town.
Any moving of the surface to adjust for an ADA compliant rail trail would be minimal by comparison and then any potentially contaminated soil in the tread way will be capped with pavement, compacted stone dust, or at least 12 inches of clean fill and would put a “lid" on any possible issues that might be lingering.
Rail trail conversion is considered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to be one of the best ways to mitigate any contamination – if it exists, making the area safer for residents.
The feasibility study turned up no history of contamination incidents.

What if I want something different?
Changes can incur additional cost and will be evaluated in that light. If changes are different then what is planned for fencing and shrubbery for the project it may be installed after approval by the Town and at the owners expense.

Can the shrubbery/fencing be installed as soon as the right-of-wayis cleared?
Shrubbery and fencing are installed after other construction work is complete. If the shrubbery and fencing are installed sooner, they may become damaged by the construction equipment.

Do rail trails attract crime? 
No, the experience from other trails is that crime is less frequent on a rail trail than it was on the abandoned railway before the trail was built. The self-policing nature of a rail trail helps suppress crime. Greenway trails, like public schools, can be unfairly labeled as violent locations. A number of studies have shown that urban greenway trails do not increase crime and, in fact, are commonly regarded as improvements by adjacent property owners.

How will the trail be policed? 
The Dedham Police Department will be responsible, just as they are now for the space. It will also be self-policed by neighbors and users.

Will the communities be liable for accidents on the rail trail?
The communities will face the same liability as they currently have for accidents on the roads, sidewalks, recreation areas and conservation areas. These liability costs are usually minimal and are capped by statute.

What is the general cost of construction?
The conceptual plan prepared by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy estimated $1.4 million. Acton and Concord had engineering estimates performed that show that the average cost will run about $1,000,000 per mile, due to major bridge work and road crossings.

Will the trail be plowed in the winter?
Yes, to allow for students to use it to access school. A path on the side will be left for cross country skiers and snow shoes.

How do we control cyclists speed?
The Dedham Heritage Rail Trail is meant as a community path that accommodates all kinds of users. Well-trained cyclists who log lots of miles at high speeds are unlikely to use the rail trail, as they generally prefer to use the roads. The cycling users of the trail will be families with children, recreational users and commuters.

How can I get more information?
Visit the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail page on the Town of Dedham’s website:

Here you will find additional details including a virtual tour and concept plan that was prepared by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

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