Below is a two-page primer on:
What in the world is the MASS CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL?
And what is currently going-on with it.
A GRAND 19TH CENTURY IDEA IS BECOMING
THE 21ST CENTURY’S GRAND IDEA
So here we are, deep into the 21st century and now, over 40 years since the state parks agency, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), bought the western-most 8-mile-long section of this 104± mile former railroad corridor and redeveloped in into a trail. And the seed was then planted.
Over the ensuing years DCR’s project called “Norwottuck Rail Trail” has grown into an idea of creating a state-wide project with a unifying name: MASS CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL; Boston to Northampton. This name mirrors the original name of the planned railroad—MASSACHUSETTS CENTRAL RAILROAD. A grand and visionary name; much like the NEW YORK CENTRAL RAILROAD.
Today, the over eighty-eight miles of the land of the former railroad is now in some sort of public or protected status. That is to say; a state agency, or a municipality, or a land trust is now preserving it from being segmented or damaged. Of that protected mileage, over fifty-one miles are now open and safe for families to enjoy.
Much of the easy to build out sections are open. Most of the remaining sections will be expensive to build out. For example, several, large/long missing bridges will need to be rebuilt or replaced.
Recently the Massachusetts Department of Transportation commissioned a “feasibility study” of the gaps. Is it really possible to reassemble the missing pieces; to fill-the-gaps as they say? The report says that it is feasible to do so. It will be costly though. If I can use a bit of railroad jargon, we are at a junction.
To have the state commit to ‘fill-the-gaps’ what would it mean to have a finished trail. Will the expenditure of large sums of public dollars be worth the investment? What would a finished trail produce?
On the left is a two page document that talks about the journey thus far.