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Weston — Continuing its commitment to providing greater access to the Commonwealth’s natural resources, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced a partnership with Eversource Energy for an upcoming project to construct a new four-mile section of trails as part of the Mass Central Rail Trail (MCRT) within the Towns of Weston and Wayland. Through the unique public-private partnership between the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Eversource Energy, and the two communities, the four mile stretch will strengthen multi-modal connections within the area along the former Central Massachusetts rail corridor.
“The Commonwealth is home to a vast network of trails that provide opportunities for transportation across many communities and outdoor recreation,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This four-mile section of the Mass Central Rail Trail serves as an excellent example of the benefits a public-private partnership can deliver to preserve natural resources and connect our communities and families.”
“Weston, Wayland and their surrounding communities will be well-served by this partnership and important addition to the Commonwealth’s network of multi-use trails, ensuring this property is open and accessible for years to come,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration is committed to providing families with opportunities to live safe and healthy lives, have fun and enjoy the outdoors.”
“Pathways like the Mass Central Rail Trail create the networks that strengthen connections between communities and allow for joggers, cyclists, commuters and all residents to enjoy the benefits of outdoor recreation,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “In partnership with Eversource, the Baker-Polito Administration is proud to make this important investment in this rail trail that we hope will one day span the length of the Commonwealth.”
The MCRT is an envisioned 104-mile multi-use rail trail designed to connect Boston to Northampton along the former Central Massachusetts rail corridor. Twenty-three (23) miles of the route between Waltham and Berlin are currently owned by the MBTA. In 2011, the DCR and MBTA entered into a 99-year agreement allowing the DCR to build the trail through these communities. With its partnership with Eversource, the DCR will begin trail construction this fall.
“The Baker-Polito Administration has made it a priority to work with communities to create corridors which are more pedestrian and cyclist friendly,” said Transportation Secretary and MassDOT CEO Stephanie Pollack. “Safe passage improvements have been made with infrastructure improvements on roadways through funding programs such as Complete Streets, but just as important has been the creation of miles of off road trails. Data is more and more reminding us that if you give members of the public options for safe travel on foot and on bike, people will leave their vehicles home more often and choose active forms of transportation. “
“In all its work, the Department of Conservation and Recreation aims to protect, promote and enhance our natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of all, and meeting that goal today would not be possible without the support from Eversource, the MBTA, and our partnering communities who helped guide us in the preservation of this local parkland,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “By expanding the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail, I hope residents and visitors alike take advantage of the wealth of healthy, outdoor recreation and transportation options now available to them.”
“A project like this only gain momentum because of the leadership of Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito, and because of the Administration’s emphasis on forming the kinds of partnerships that bring new thinking to the process and focus a shared goal,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. “The MBTA is pleased to be a partner in the new four-mile segment of the rail trail, which will create new opportunities for recreation and mobility.”
“It’s very gratifying to know the work we’re doing as part of our commitment to providing safe, reliable electric service is also helping advance one of the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitments to the citizens of Massachusetts,” said Eversource Chairman, President and CEO Jim Judge. “We look forward to the day when our new right-of-way access roads are available for use by families across MetroWest and beyond as part of this scenic, multi-use trail.”
To complete this section of the MCRT, the Commonwealth invested approximately $1.7 million, representing a significant contribution by the Baker-Polito Administration in the expansion and maintenance of Massachusetts’ hundreds of miles of trails on state property. In June, Governor Charlie Baker announced a 60 percent increase in the budget of the Recreation Trails Program (RTP), allowing the DCR to expand its pool of grant winners who construct or maintain trails across the Commonwealth. Since 2015, under the Baker-Polito Administration, approximately 150 miles of new trail have been designed, planned, funded, and/or completed with trail rehabilitation and repair also becoming a major priority.
“The trail network around Wayland and the surrounding areas is a beautiful asset utilized by many,” said State Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham). “Extending the Mass Central Rail Trail will provide cyclists and others, the opportunity to enjoy all that Massachusetts has to offer while being safe.”
“I am glad to hear that construction will soon be beginning on the Weston and Wayland portion of the Mass Central Rail Trail,” said State Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley). “The Rail Trail is a wonderful way to bring communities together while fostering the preservation of our natural resources for years to come.”
“One day soon, I hope, the MA Central Rail Trail will make its way from Weston and Wayland east to Waltham and west to Hudson and beyond, supporting recreational bicyclists and connecting commuters to workplaces,” said State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington). “We need alternatives to our busy roads. This is exciting stuff.”
“I am certain that the expansion of the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail will be a great benefit to the Town of Wayland and the region as a whole. This project and others like it promote healthy, fun, and environmentally friendly transit options while providing a unique opportunity to view the often otherwise hidden beauty of our forests, wetlands, farms, and meadows,” said State Representative Carmine L. Gentile (D-Wayland). “I look forward to the day such pathways will connect the entire Commonwealth.”
“Wayland bicyclists, joggers, and walkers will be delighted to hear that the long-anticipated construction on the Mass Central Rail Trail connecting Wayland and Weston will begin soon,” said Lea Anderson, Chair of the Wayland Board of Selectmen. “This is a project that enhances life in our communities by providing a safe place to enjoy nature, exercise, and eventually commute to other towns. We are grateful for the collaboration that has led to this exciting project.”
“The Rail Trail will be a wonderful asset in Weston, offering great recreational opportunities, while also preserving important open space and historical features,” said Chris Houston, Weston Board of Selectmen. “The town looks forward to its completion and appreciates the cooperation we have seen among the DCR, Eversource, and various town boards and committees.”
The announcement follows several notable trail expansions which have occurred this year. In June, Governor Baker announced a new 3.7-mile extension of the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and in September Lt. Governor Karyn Polito presided over the completion of Segment 1 of the Blackstone River Greenway. Since 2015, the Baker-Polito Administration has constructed more than 20 major trail sections throughout the Commonwealth, including the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Lanesborough, the Charles River Greenway’s Braille Trail in Watertown, and the Norwottuck Rail Trail in Northampton.