There has been a lot of debate in Sudbury about what kind of design standards should be used for the two future rail trails: the north-south Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (BFRT) and the east-west Mass. Central Rail Trail (MCRT).
Sudbury has voted three times that the BFRT should be designed and constructed to MassDOT standards, which will likely result in a paved trail just like the towns to our north. A design contract has been funded and awarded. The contractor started last fall with the goal of completing the 25% design by February 2016 at which point, that design can be submitted to Mass Highway. A state board has approved the $6.6M for construction (state and federal funds only). The tentative date for start of construction is 2022. However, there is a high likelihood that this date will be moved up once the 25% design is submitted.
Despite this activity on the BFRT, a Sudbury resident, Andrew Sullivan, has formed “Sudbury Greenways” that is pushing for construction of a temporary stone dust trail that he asserts will be ready quickly so that the trail can be used before state and federal funding comes through. A temporary trail would be paid for entirely by Sudbury residents. Mr. Sullivan submitted Town Meeting petition Article 54 to ask for $1M to construct a stone dust trail. The dollars are an estimate, not a firm figure.
Mr. Sullivan also submitted Article 55 asking for $1M from Sudbury residents to construct a stone dust trail on the Mass. Central Rail Trail. The MCRT is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) with the goal of constructing a rail trail. The general consensus is that this trail should be designed and constructed to MassDOT standards resulting in a paved trail. However, DCR is chronically underfunded so it may be a while before it gets the funds to construct a MassDOT standard rail trail. For that reason, DCR has given towns along the MCRT the go ahead to build something temporary with their own funds. Article 55 seeks to get those funds.
Articles 54 and 55 have not been vetted by any Town Boards. The source of the funds was not specified in the petition articles. Town meeting rules dictate that any article must specify where the funds are to come from. At this point in the development of the Town Meeting warrant, some place holder wording is used in the articles to allude to the sources of funding. However, the Board of Selectmen voted to identify a Capital Exclusion as the source of funding. This requires a 2/3 vote. If the articles pass at Town meeting, they would also have to approved by the May 19 town-wide special election.