Rail Trail will be positive step for town

Sudbury Town Crier
Thursday, April 5, 2007


At our next Town Meeting, Articles 22, 23 and 24 provide $145,000 for further investigation into proposed Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. As residents with the trail in our backyard, we want to encourage everyone to support these articles. The feasibility study looked at engineering issues and determined that it is technically feasible to create the trail in Sudbury. Articles 22 to 24 take us to the next step. As in any project, a full evaluation and design is required before any implementation is considered. The SCRLS group says the town doesn’t have all the answers. They’re right. These articles will give the town more answers so we can make a well informed decision down the road.

The Sudbury Master Plan from 2001 calls for improving Sudbury’s bike paths as a means of recreation and transportation. Though the planned changes at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge will provide recreational trails, it will not provide transportation trails. So who might use this trail?

Massachusetts Central Transportation has estimated that during good weather, about 300 people a day are likely to use the trail between Sudbury and Lowell. Only a portion of these will use the Sudbury section. Studies of other rail trails have indicated that most users are from the local town or come to the town via the rail trail. These will include senior citizens enjoying a walk, dog walkers, parents with small children riding their bikes, students going to school on foot or bike and some adults riding their bikes to work.

Studies show that proximity to the rail trail has a positive effect on property values. A study by two realtors posted on the Sudbury town Web site states that “… home sales near rail trails … sold in an average of 29.3 days as compared to 50.4 days for other homes.” An article in the Nov. 6, 2005 Boston Globe says “… being on or near the Minuteman Bikeway can increase the value of a home by 4 or 5 percent.” In fact, the first real estate entry for Lexington in the April 1 Sunday Globe advertises its proximity to the trail.

What about the wildlife? Articles 23 and 24 address these issues. These articles will provides the funds to investigate the impact on the wildlife and the environment by the proposed rail trail. The Conservation Commission’s input will be invaluable in this process.

Rail Trails are traditionally paid for by CPA funds in the initial design phases. The remaining expenses are paid for by the state and federal governments. In November 2006, Massachusetts gave Sudbury over $1.2 million as matching grant funds based on our FY ‘06 CPA collections. Articles 22, 23, and 24 do not represent an increase in taxes, rather an approved usage for CPA funds.

As Sudbury residents for 15 years, we appreciate Sudbury’s vision on
investigating the issues completely before moving forward with any implementation of the rail trail. These articles are the responsible stewardship of Sudbury’s valuable natural and financial resources.

Mara and Art Huston
Peakham Road