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Sudbury Resident Asks Selectmen to Reconsider Type of Rail Trail Construction

Andrew Sullivan said building greenways for the Bruce Freeman and Mass Central rail trails will only cost $77K.

Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. Patch file photo
Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. Patch file photo

The hot topic of rail trails in Sudbury was given another jolt during the Jan. 14 Board of Selectmen meeting.

Andrew Sullivan, a French Road resident, asked the Board to reconsider the full-build design for the town's portion of the 25-mile Bruce Freeman Rail Trail and its portion of the Mass Central Rail Trail.

According to Sullivan, if Sudbury were to pursue a greenway option, both lines, which measure just over 9 miles, could be converted for $77,000, compared to the $250,000 it will cost in the design study alone for the Bruce Freeman trail.

"The metrics, timing and costs associated with those options are interesting to put side by side," he said. "We haven’t had an actual cost analysis on greenways."

Sullivan said Iron Horse Preservation Society, a non-profit organization that specializes in converting rails to trails, could take over the projects for the reduced cost.

"This can be done through obtaining construction permits, or some type of long-term low-cost lease agreement," Sullivan said.

He asked to Board to consider the option when deciding on the trails. Conservation Coordinator Debbie Dineen also recommended a greenway trail last August.

"I don’t think building greenways in Sudbury doesn’t allow us to do something more substantial in the future," he said, "but it would be a wonderful first step to provide that recreational amenity in the near term and get quite a bit bang for the buck from a cost-benefit analysis standpoint. For $77,000 it seems you get an awful lot."

On Oct. 29, 2013, the Board voted for a full-build design for the town's portion of the 25-mile Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

The Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail have offered put up $58,000 toward the study, but only for a full-build design.

"I ask that the Board stay flexible in considerations in north/south corridor and look at the greenway as interim option something citizens could enjoy right away vs. some undetermined time in the future

Chairman John Drobinski invited Sullivan to the Jan. 23 Town Forum, where the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail will be discussed. 

Marc Schultz January 23, 2014 at 07:30 AM
It's time to build it and let our community benefit from our great natural resource. There will always be more options. Then again we could all wait for a faster and cheaper computer to hit the market before buying some needed technology. We have a plan to increase access to our wonderful resources lets do it already.
Inginish January 23, 2014 at 08:53 AM
This is great work by Andrew Sullivan. The greenway approach is a revelation. Let's do it!
pmotw January 23, 2014 at 12:15 PM
Mr. Schultz, it’s time to discuss the safety and financial issues of this. Based on the increase of bicycle traffic on our roads and crossing our roads there would be a substantial increase in the statistical probability that there will be accidents. Hopefully not fatal. Motor vehicle and bicycle traffic have never been a good mix. The cost to build this and maintain it is significant. I never hear any details on the cost of maintenance. Is there a plan? How much will it cost the residents of Sudbury? Look at the walk ways we recently built. Many are covered with overgrowth and are not maintained. Is that the future of the bike trail? Something tells me supporters of the trial will be asking the town for funding down the road for a number of things including maintenance. We have to know all the associated costs before committing to such a project. This whole attitude of let’s just do it because we have been talking about it for so many years defies reasonable logic. We must consider all the risks, impact to our community and the permanent tax burden put on all taxpaying residents.
Marc Schultz January 24, 2014 at 10:34 AM
pmotw, Great points and thoughts I've had when I read of accidents along our roadways. The commitments needed ar to improve our community as our world changes. I hope we can all agree on that point.

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