The chairwoman of Wakefield’s Rail to Trail Committee wants residents to know that members are still working on making a local bike trail a reality, even if progress has been slow.
In an email this week to Wakefield Patch, Dot Halpin reported that for the first time, the Rail to Trail committee will not have a presence at the town’s annual Festival by the Lake, which after being postponed by rain last weekend.
“The reception of the public has always been so positive and supportive whenever we make our presentation. The number one question is always, ‘When is this going to be a reality? Believe me, we have not gone away,’ wrote Halpin.
The phase that we are in right now is that our Town officials and the engineering and design contractors are working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MA DOT) to see this project move forward. It is now established as an item on the DOT Transportation Improvement Plan list of projects and that puts it in the pipeline toward construction. We continue to work with Town Hall to check on the project to ensure that it will be moving forward,” she added.
In December, town officials in Wakefield and Lynnfield were informed by the state Department of Transportation that the rail trail is at least eligible for federal highway funds. Securing the funds will be a separate matter.
Earlier this spring, Wakefield Patch featured this photo gallery showing what the land on the future bike trail currently looks like. The proposed trail would start near the Galvin Middle School in downtown Wakefield and make its way along the old rail bed, which dates back to around the Civil War era, under the Route 128 bridge and into the Lynnfield portion of Reedy Meadow toward Peabody, where other existing trails connect to other nearby towns.
One of the key engineering issues for the project awaits in the often water-logged section of Reedy Meadow that is close to the 128 bridge. One idea from Lynnfield Town Administrator Bill Gustus could see surplus flatbed railcars placed out there so people can pass over the high water areas.
“It has been a long time coming and will still be some time before we see the benefit of our years of work. We want to thank all of the public who have stood behind us all these years and ask that we all “keep the faith” that Wakefield and Lynnfield will have a rail trail in their future. The environmental, economic and social benefits will be worth the wait!” wrote Halpin.
Editor’s Note: Wakefield has its own town conservation land in Reedy Meadow. For a photo gallery taken there earlier this spring, click here.