Abandoned Rail Line

Eversource is preparing to conduct major work on its Access Road Improvement Project, which is located within the MBTA abandoned railroad property and existing Eversource right-of-way just north of Route 20. This work will include removing the old rails and ties of the former Mass Central Rail line, and creating a 16’ wide gravel drive to allow access for its maintenance of the existing electric transmission structures.

Furthermore, the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has very recently secured funding and intends to pave the Eversource gravel access road in order to create a 10-foot wide multi-use greenway as the MassCentral Rail Trail (the Wayside Trail). The DCR is joining Eversource in the wetlands permit application to the Conservation Commission and representatives will appear during the continued public hearings. Due to this project change, Weston abutters were re-notified to provide updated and transparent information to the public. 

The abandoned railroad property is leased to the DCR by the MBTA and Eversource has a right of way access, as well.  

Wetlands Public Hearings

 
On December 6th, Eversource appeared before the Conservation Commission for its first public hearing regarding its wetlands permit. Residents with wetlands-related questions are welcome to attend the continued hearings. Subscribe to receive Conservation Commission agenda notifications via email or text to follow progress on the permit. 

The next wetlands public hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 7th at 8:10 p.m. in Town Hall. The scope of issues that the Conservation Commission can consider in reviewing proposed projects is defined by the Wetlands Protection Act. The Conservation Commission has created “An Abutter's Guide to the Conservation Commission Permitting Process,” which is available online.

Notice of Intent and Site Plans


The plans for the Access Road Improvement Project that were filed by Eversource contain details on the maintenance road and the proposed work and impacts within the wetland areas. Eversource also provided more general plans for the Selectmen's meeting to show what the road will look like. 

What Does this Mean for Weston?



Rail Trail Advisory Committee


The process of converting the abandoned Mass Central Rail Line, which covers a three-mile section of Weston, to a rail trail has been gaining momentum since 2011 when the MBTA signed a 99 year lease with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) giving it jurisdiction over the abandoned rail line. The rail line extends 23 miles from Berlin to Waltham is known as the Wayside Corridor. 

With news of Eversource’s project, the Board of Selectmen appointed the Rail Trail Advisory Committee to study a potential rail trail in Weston. The committee has just begun studying the area, but it is not overseeing or partnering with Eversource. Its charge is explained on its committee web page and its work is separate from the Eversource and DCR project; however, residents who are interested in how Weston will accommodate the Wayside Trail, are encouraged to follow the Rail Trail Advisory Committee and can subscribe to receive meeting agenda and minute notifications

Moving Forward


On December 7th, before the DCR announcement, the Board of Selectmen held a public informational meeting with Eversource to discuss their Access Road Improvement project in greater detail so residents could ask questions on the project as a whole. The discussion also addressed what the improved maintenance road will mean for the town as the exploration of utilizing it as a rail trail begins. 

The Rail Trail Advisory Committee is actively meeting to discuss Weston's use of the trail and how to address the Conant Road bridge obstruction and the trestle bridge near the Waltham border, as well as the recent news of the DCR's newly acquired funding and how to accommodate this development. A funding request at Annual Town Meeting is anticipated.

There will be much public outreach during the committee's continued exploration. In addition to subscribing for meeting agenda/minute notifications, interested residents can also subscribe to receive Latest Town News and the monthly newsletter for ongoing developments.