Picture 543The towns of Acton and Maynard have signed a contract with Francesca Demolition of Duxbury, to remove the 1.2 miles of steel RR rails that are on the ground along the ARRT right of way. Only the rails are being removed in this phase of the project, with the complete trail construction still scheduled to start in 2016. The rails will be removed and recycled. Picture 545

The trail supporters welcome this most tangible milestone in the Acton-Maynard ARRT project!

(update) Francesca Demolition has started to remove the RR rails in Maynard. They started behind Cumberland Farms on Friday and will then move on to High Street. Picture 546After Maynard is finished in a couple of weeks, they will move on to Acton.

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Date Nails

DateNails640Maynard ARRT volunteer and Beacon columnist David Mark has written an interesting article about date nails on the railroad. Don’t know what a date nail is? Follow this link and learn all about them.

I think I see a new ARRT Google map in our future:)

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Hot Hot Hot!

So here I am at 5:00 PM Friday, sitting in my car in the humid 93 degree heat, counting bicycles. I must be crazy! Even Chennai India is 9 degrees cooler.

RiteAidThree times a year, the state coordinates bike trail counts. The summer count is Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 4-6. I decided to cover Friday evening, with the other ARRT volunteers  taking Saturday.

We had skipped the last 3 counts, as the RT-85 construction project had the ARRT crossing all torn up. The trail is mostly returned to normal now.

RT-85/Washington Street is our favorite spot, meeting the three census requirements of (1) lots of parking, (2) a Duncan Donuts  100 feet north and (3) last but not least, more traffic than anywhere else on the trail! We get everything; bikes, baby carriages, joggers, walkers, skateboards and even roller skaters. Considering the heat, the 15-20 users per hour was decent.

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ARRT Spring Update

March has been a good month for the ARRT. There has been progress in many areas and here are the details.

Back in November 2011, AECOM finished the Acton-Maynard 25% trail design and submitted it to MassDOT for review. The state asked for some parts of it to be redrawn.  That work was finished at the end of February and can be seen on the ARRT website at http://www.arrtinc.org/design/arrt_design.asp. Based on the new version, MassDOT has tentatively agreed to finally hold the public 25% design hearing in late spring.

Based on this news, the MPO staff is going to recommend on April 4th that the Acton-Maynard construction funding be restored into the 2017 TIP as a “first-tier” project! More on this as we get into the spring TIP season.

The ARRT calendar has several upcoming events, including the Maynard and Marlborough spring trail cleanups and more work on the caboose windows.

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Rail Trail Flat Bread Co.

I’m always interested in new businesses that name themselves after the rail trail. We already have a townhome complex and bike shop. Now there is a restaurant!

FlatBreadLogoThe Rail Trail Flat Bread Co. opened in early December, in downtown Hudson, just 3 blocks from the trail. Michael Kasseris and Karim El-Gamal picked the location because they felt that the Hudson area was ready for a new restaurant.

Last Friday I went and checked it out. The first surprise is how packed this place is. Two blocks of the usually empty night-time Wood Square, were full of parked cars. Only found a spot on the 3rd block. There were at least 60 people inside, with a waiting bench for takeout, every seat at the bar taken and most of the tables full.

RTFBCFinally seated at the bar, Crissy was pouring a wide variety of craft brews. Coincidently, someone posted her picture to the facebook page just minutes before I sat down.

RTFB is a welcome addition to the Hudson community.

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Acton – Then & Now

There has been a train station in South Acton for more than 160 years.  It’s been there so long, its use has almost come full-circle. The first photo on the left is from 1908 and shows the nearly brand new 2nd station. It’s a full service building, with a heated waiting room, a manned ticket window and large awnings in each direction.  Standing on the platform, there are 4 sets of tracks in front; east & westbound mainline to Boston and Fitchburg, a freight siding and the track to Marlborough that is the route of the ARRT. This station was on School Street, more than 1000 feet east of the current MBTA platform and parking lot.

In the 2nd photo, taken in 1965, the station is boarded up and closed.  It eventually burned down and the MBTA moved down the tracks and built the big parking lot and single boarding platform we use now.

Jump forward to 2012 and the preliminary track work for the new RR station starts in July.  On July 21st, commuter trains for 3-4 weekends will stop short of the South Acton platform and passengers bused the rest of the way to Littleton and Fitchburg. So where did the MBTA locate the temporary stop? Back at the old station! As you can see in the last photo, crews have spruced up the old parking lot, put in a set of stairs and restriped the concrete. The weekend passengers may not appreciate the historical context, but rail fans will.

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Community Service Day

Every spring the seniors at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School participate in Senior Community Service Day – a half-day of volunteer work to be performed in Acton. This year, on April 27, ten students met at the Sylvia Street access point to the Acton section of ARRT to clear the trail of a winter’s worth of downed trees and brush. The students braved poison ivy and the risk of deer ticks. They used hand saws and branch loppers to clear  a bit more than half a mile of a path that runs next to the abandoned railroad tracks.

Information and picture provided by ARRT volunteer David Mark.

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