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A History of the Bay Colony Rail Trail Project


The Bay Colony Railroad (www.baycolonyrr.com) currently owns the rights to run its freight trains on the rail corridor between Millis and Needham. The tracks are owned by the MBTA, who has licensed their use to Bay Colony.

Bay Colony Railroad still actively uses the segment between Millis and Medfield. However, as of 2008, the stretch between Medfield and Needham is no longer in use. But until May 2009, few people were aware of this.

Tad Staley started Needham Bikes in the fall of 2008, and launched a web site in the winter of 2009. The group's purpose is to improve biking conditions in Needham and to provide a resource for bicycle enthusiasts in the town. The first priority was to help implement a long-dormant bicycling plan for the town that would provide bike lanes and signage on designated streets.

The web site, www.needhambikes.org, includes public forum areas where members can ask questions and share information. In the first few months, members asked repeatedly about the possibility of a rail trail in Needham. With support from Craig Della Penna, noted rail trail authority, Tad contacted Bay Colony Railroad's Bernie Reagan, and discovered that the corridor was now available.

After socializing the idea - both on the Needham Bikes site, and in other public forums - it was clear that there was public support. In June, Tom Connors appeared on the scene, and the project took on a new energy. Tom found and recruited Christian Donner from Medfield. The three have since worked together to create this site, name the trail and begin the formation process for a rail trail project.

Other significant Milestones:

June 30: In a phone conversation with Medfield Selectman Osler Peterson, Mark Boyle, Assistant General Manager for Development at the MBTA, indicates that the MBTA would be willing to lease the land to the towns for 85 years at no cost.

July 15: The Bay Colony Trail is discussed by leading trail and policy experts in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation's Trails and Greenways meeting.

July 23: The inaugural Bay Colony Rail Trail meeting brings together key officials, experts and interested parties.

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