A report about the feasibility of the Framingham portion of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (sometimes called the Nobscot Rail Trail locally) is slated to be presented at Tuesday's Board of Selectman meeting, which begins at 7:30 pm in the Memorial Building.
Plans call for the Freeman trail to run 25 miles, passing through Sudbury, Concord, Acton and Westford, ending in Lowell. There's some thought of trying to connect the Cochituate Rail Trail to the Freeman trail using one of the MWRA aqueducts north of Saxonville.
The Aug. 22 presentation in Framingham is a "required ‘First Step’ in what will be a multi year journey of fact-finding, negotiation, fund raising, and problem solving, which if successful will lead to a landscaped and finished recreational walking and bicycle path north from Pleasant St. to Rte 20 by Friendly’s Ice Cream in Sudbury and beyond," according to an e-mail sent out by trail supporters. "Construction of the Trail from Lowell south to Rte 225 in Westford begins this spring. Acton is in the State budget following Lowell-Westford; Concord has completed a favorable study, and Sudbury has an engineering study underway."
After Tuesday's presentation, selectmen will be asked to support a letter of intent to begin negotiations with CSX for possible purchase of a right of way for the trail. The letter wouldn't commit the town to purchasing such a right of way, but merely express "interest."
Both trail supporters and concerned abutters are likely to attend Tuesday. Issues I expect to arise at the meeting: Cost, liability, potential increases in crime, safety issues when the trail crosses busy roadways, and concern about reduced property values for property owners abutting the proposed trail. Issues that should come up but may not: Who will clear trash off the trail? (As an abutter to MWRA property I can tell you this isn't a trivial point). Is it necessary to blacktop over the trail in order to get a usable trail? (It'd be a bummer to lose a natural trail in the woods to blacktop. If I wanted to take a walk on pavement, I could use the street.)