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Bike Trail Still Some Time Away, Committee Remains Active

Wakefield Rail to Trail Chair Dot Halpin provided an update on the ongoing effort to build a bike trail through Wakefield and Lynnfield.

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.

Maura Racamato June 12, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Thank you to all the volunteers for tirelessly working on this project for what must be 10 years or more! I don't understand why its taking so long, but can only assume since the state is involved its the reason.
dlanod June 12, 2013 at 04:04 PM
It should have been built by now. Don't buy that bit about the rail cars. Lynnfield is proposing to spend $500K to do an engineering study that is not needed. They can reuse the same plans Peabody has, save the $500K and then apply it to more trails. I guess the engineering firm will win there. Just some of the observations on how this is being managed.
Adrian Lupien June 12, 2013 at 07:41 PM
While living on the western edge of the RM back in the 50's and 60's, the water level was about a foot lower. I believe the Lynn Water Dept controls the level by a dam located on the Saugus River at the Colonial very close the hotel. This is the ONLY outlet for the marsh.
dlanod June 13, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Very true Adrian, but there is a bigger problem, that replica of the Burlington Mall they are building at the Colonial. That will cause the water level to rise over an inch, which is against MA law by the way, and surely will cause the marsh to be disturbed. I use those trails quite a bit as they are awesome for Xcountry skiing, when we have snow. All the money that can be saved via engineering plan re-use can be applied to construction activities. Watch out for Lynnfield officials, there is a lot of controversy on that Mall project and many in the town feel they were ripped off. This engineering re-use really shocked them, they didn't think any one would know about that and the "engineering firm", who you can bet is friends with someone, really got blindsided. The information that everyone in Wakefield and Lynnfield need to know is that the engineering plans were already paid for when the Middleton/Peabody trails were constructed and are available for use on these trails. Do we the folks who want this bike path real bad think the $500K should be "re-spent" for engineering services already available and can be reused or should that amount of money be spent for trail construction? I think we can see clearly where the money should be spent. Please be aware folks and I look forward to working with all on this project and using the path.

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