Comments on Funding BFRT due Sunday, July 24th by 8:00 pm

It’s July, so it’s TIP comment time again (the state process to schedule funding for transportation projects, including rail trails).  With construction ongoing for Phase 2A (Acton, Carlisle and Westford), we only need to comment on Phase 2C (Concord from Commonwealth Ave to the Sudbury border), and Phase 2B (the mile long section connecting over Route 2 connecting Phases 2A and 2C.  And just so you know, Phase 2D preliminary (25%) design lags and is not ready to be placed (generally completion of the 25% design is a prerequisite of getting on the TIP).  (See details further below)

*** Deadline of July 24, 8:00 pm to Support the BFRT; Please Comment on the Boston MPO TIP ***

The Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is requesting comments for the Draft 2017-20201 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

The TIP is the planning document that details the funding for transportation projects in the Boston area using federal and state funds.  The BFRT (with its right-of-way owned by MassDOT) is a transportation project that competes for funding with a universe of other transportation project (e.g., highway interchanges).  The Boston MPO makes a five year TIP plan every year.  If a project is not on the TIP, it will not have funding and, of course, will not be built.

The draft federal fiscal years (FFYs) 2017–2021 TIP was approved by the MPO on June 23, 2016, for a 30-day public review and comment period, beginning on June 24, and ending at 8:00 PM on Sunday, July 24, 2016. Please submit your comments to or via comment/feedback page.

ACTION ITEM: Submit comments thru July 24 @ 8:00 pm to either

More details below.

For the BFRT, there are no changes from the last year’s TIP (the one for FFY 2016-2020).  The FFY 2017-2021 TIP has scheduled

  • Phase 2C (the entirety of the Concord section south of Commonwealth Ave. by MCI Concord) for 2016 construction.
  • Phase 2B (primarily bridge over Route 2 on Concord / Acton border) for 2018 construction

Our responsibility as Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (that means me, you and everyone else who gets this email) is to comment on the draft TIP and voice your support for BFRT.

So comments might thank the Boston MPO for funding for keeping Phase 2C on schedule for advertisement of construction in FFY 2016 (by September 30, 2016) as reported in Appendix D, and construction of Phase 2B programed for construction start in FFY 2018, see Chapter 3 (search for “Bruce” in the documents, you will find the reference).  I am delighted with the Phase 2C, and very happy with Phase 2B being on the TIP for FFY 2018 as the 25% design public meeting is yet to be accomplished and tentatively scheduled for this summer.  My guess on the major reason why Phase 2B is on the TIP at all, when the 25% design has not been accomplished are as follows:

  • MassDOT is managing the very complicated Phase 2B bridge design, thus they can give themselves more slack and know that the project is really progressing
  • There are funds lined up to finish the design so the project can be advertised for construction by 2018
  • It is logical to connect Phases 2A and Phase 2C as soon as possible especially so bicyclists and pedestrians from the north can connect to the West Concord commuter rail station
  • The support of Concord and Acton for the project and the strong advocacy of the FBFRT

We need to continue to make support of the BFRT overwhelming, and make our elected officials’ job easier to ensure that the BFRT construction stays on course, and they don’t get pushed to the back of the transportation project line.  It also will be easier to advocate anew for Phase 2D (Sudbury), when that project is ready to join the TIP.  Some ideas of what to focus on as the trail is getting transportation funding:

  • Safe transportation to destination
  • Substitute for automobile trips
  • Use of local merchants near the BFRT
  • Health benefits
  • Recreation benefits
  • Community benefits
  • Tourism (e.g., use of trail by out-of-town guests)

Thank you for your help and submitting comments by Sunday July 24, 2016 @ 8:00 pm.