- Department of Conservation & Recreation
Media Contact for DCR to Commence Blackstone Section of the Southern New England Trunkline Trail in Spring 2023
Ilyse Wolberg, DCR Press Secretary
Boston — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will break ground on the Blackstone section of the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) in Spring 2023, which is estimated to take approximately three years to complete. The $11.3 million project runs from the Saint Paul Street Bridge in the Town of Blackstone to the Massachusetts-Rhode Island state border and is the final half-mile of an approximately 4.2-mile section of DCR’s Blackstone River Greenway. Additionally, this section of the greenway is critical for the connection to Rhode Island’s Blackstone River Bikeway and also provides a regional connection to Douglas, MA, and the State of Connecticut through the SNETT.
“Since taking office, the Baker-Polito Administration has worked diligently to greatly expand the Commonwealth’s vast network of trails, which offer incredible economic, health, and transportation benefits, and access to the natural world that surrounds us,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “This Blackstone section is a vital part of the Southern New England Trunkline Trail that will not only connect communities, but two states together, enabling stronger bonds and better opportunities to explore nature.”
The SNETT is a recreational trail, owned and managed by DCR, along a former railroad corridor that runs approximately 22 miles from the Franklin State Forest in the Town of Franklin to the Douglas State Forest in the Town of Douglas. The SNETT passes through the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Franklin, Millville, and Uxbridge and is one of the longest rail-trails in southern Massachusetts. Currently, most of the trail is gravel surface and is used for various recreational and transportation purposes. Additionally, a portion of the SNETT, including the section to be built in the Town of Blackstone, is part of the Blackstone River Greenway, an envisioned 50-mile greenway with a paved shared-use path connecting Providence, Rhode Island, and Worcester, Massachusetts.
“The Department of Conservation and Recreation is excited to commence work on the Blackstone section of the Southern New England Trunkline Trail this spring,” said DCR Commissioner Doug Rice. “The commitment by the Baker-Polito Administration to complete this section provides many benefits for residents, businesses, and visitors for years to come.”
The Blackstone project includes a single-span railroad viaduct and a seven-span railroad viaduct on which the trail will be constructed. Both of these viaducts that will be rehabilitated as part of the project are important historic structures and cultural resources. Additionally, funding for the project is through the DCR Major Trails Capital Program.
“I am grateful for the Baker-Polito administration and DCR’s investment in the Blackstone Valley,” said State Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton). “This trail is a focal point for tourism in our area for those that love the outdoors, and this improvement will build upon that experience. By finalizing the connection between Blackstone and the MA-RI border, we will be opening the door for many outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy these trails in the Blackstone Valley.”
“I am excited to see work commence on the Blackstone section of the Southern New England Trunkline Trail,” said State Representative Michael J. Soter (R-Worcester). “I applaud DCR and the Baker Polito Administration for their work and commitment to bring towns of Southern New England.”
In 2018, DCR completed the 3.7-mile section from 146A in the Town of Uxbridge through the Town of Millville to the Saint Paul Street Bridge in Blackstone, MA, and in 2019, DCR completed the Canal Street Bridge. Rhode Island has also completed the bridge across the Blackstone River that connects to the Massachusetts border. Significantly, this project will complete the final link to the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border within a 23-mile intrastate greenway.