Support the Rail Trail

Sudbury Town Crier
Thursday, April 5, 2007


It is somewhat disturbing to hear the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail opposed for environmentalist reasons. Currently, cars are the only viable means of transportation within Sudbury. But if the Rail Trail is built, Sudbury residents will walk, run, cycle, or roller-blade for an afternoon’s leisure or a morning’s commute – instead of driving. This will reduce traffic congestion, gasoline usage, and greenhouse gas emissions.

As predictions of the consequences of Global Warming become both more certain and alarming, it is increasingly urgent to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This is one reason why many environmentalist organizations like the Sierra Club strongly support rail trails.

It is disappointing to hear people opposed to further study of the Rail Trail cite fiscal prudence as a rationale for their opposition – particularly since their primary argument against further study involves a chicken-and-egg problem. Developing a detailed plan for the rail trail (or anything else) takes time and money. And yet, proponents of article 35 at this year’s Town Meeting apparently argue that Sudbury should not develop a detailed plan until after the state has approved the plan and budgeted money to implement the plan.

That’s not how these things work; we have to develop a plan first. State funding is firmly programmed once planning and design or a rail trail is well underway. Our trail has the strong support of every state representative and senator whose district it passes through, and is a high priority of the Patrick administration including the Massachusetts Highway Department. They are committed to paying 90 percent of the cost of the trail – amplifying our own investment of CPA funds (whose expenditure does not affect Sudbury tax rates).

If anyone ever offers me a similar deal – say, if my employer were to offer a 90 percent match on funds I invest in my 401k – you can bet that I will seize the opportunity.

The benefits of the trail will accrue to Sudbury residents ranging from babies being pushed in jogging strollers to senior citizens walking with friends – including kids biking and roller-blading, and adults commuting and running (and, of course, pushing those jogging strollers). The trail will get us out of our cars and out of doors, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and gasoline usage, fighting obesity, and increasing physical fitness. Ninety percent of its total cost will be paid by the state. At Town Meeting next week, let’s take the next step in its construction by voting for articles 22-24 and against article 35.

Carl Elkin
Millpond Road