The inactive railroad property, located just north of Route 20, was leased to the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) by the MBTA in 2010, giving the DCR the right to construct, operate, and maintain a trail way. Eversource has an existing right-of-way access because of its power lines within the corridor. Weston does not own this land but does have Conservation Land and trails running along the state's property.
Eversource built an access road within the MBTA inactive railroad property and existing Eversource right-of-way, as seen in the Project Limits (PDF). The access road will allow for the safe operation and maintenance of the existing electric transmission facilities on the right-of-way. This work included removing the old rails and ties of the former Mass Central Rail line and creating a gravel drive.
Mass. DCR Involvement
DCR obtained funding to pave the Eversource gravel access road in order to create a 10-foot wide, multi-use recreational path as part of the planned Mass Central Rail Trail - Wayside. The Mass Central Rail Trail will eventually run from Berlin to Waltham, including a three-mile, unobstructed stretch through Weston.
During construction, Weston Town officials attended weekly site walks to ensure Weston's assets were protected. Historic assets were also flagged for protection, including three cattle passes.
Phase 1 - creating the trail
Contractors for Eversource and DCR have finished the bulk of Phase 1 work, as described above, in the fall of 2018. The path is paved from Wayland to Conant Road in Weston and from Church Street to the trestle bridge in Weston. A binder course of pavement was installed between Conant Road and Church Street. Additionally, fencing and DCR rail trail signage have been installed. A few areas have been identified as needing additional fencing, loaming and seeding. The erosion controls will also be removed.
The trail will not be officially opened until 2019, but portions of it can be enjoyed. The trail will not be plowed of snow, which creates additional opportunities for snow skiing and snowshoeing.
Phase 2 - reopening the underpass
Construction will start up again in early spring of 2019 as crews ready to reopen the underpass at Conant Road and create the parking areas at the spurs off Concord Road and Church Street.
This portion of the project will involve the closure of Conant Road at the bridge area for approximately 2 weeks. A map indicating the closure points and the detour route is available online.
Once the underpass is reopened, the final pavement from Conant Road to Chruch Street will be installed. The path will then be unobstructed from Wayland to the trestle bridge in Weston.
Access: Rail Trail and Conservation Land
When construction starts up again in 2019, it is important to remember that the area will be an active construction zone, again, and unauthorized access during construction is not permitted.
Weston's conservation land will be open, but residents need to be cognizant of the construction zone and closed access portion of the corridor. A map of the abutting trail access points along the new rail trail is available online to help orient users when construction starts up, again.
Rail Trail = State Rules
Weston's trails permit off-leash dog walking, per the Dog By-law, but the rail trail is state property and dog walkers must put their pets on a short leash when approaching and walking on the Mass Central Rail Trail. Further, this is a multi-use recreational path, which means bicyclists, joggers, walkers, dogs, horseback riders, etc. need to share the trail. All users need to yield to horses. Keep to the right to allow those moving faster to pass. When passing, announce your approach and passing.