By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The town has hired a new engineering firm for Lynnfield’s portion of the rail trail.
Wakefield previously hired Woburn-based WorldTech Engineering to create the Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail’s design and oversee the permitting component of the project for both towns. The shared-use path will connect both towns via the abandoned MBTA rail bed. The rail trail will begin at the Main Street and Bennett Street intersection in Wakefield near the Galvin Middle School, extend north through Lynnfield and will go to the Peabody line. A portion of the rail trail will go through Reedy Meadow via an elevated boardwalk. The Wakefield component of the trail totals 1.8 miles while Lynnfield’s portion equals 2.53 miles.
Lynnfield Town Engineer Patrick McAlpine said the project started experiencing design delays after WorldTech submitted the 25 percent design for the rail trail to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation as part of its Transportation Improvement Program four years ago. He noted that construction of the project was supposed to begin this year, but construction has been delayed until 2026.
“WorldTech completed the 25 percent design and submitted it to MassDOT,” said McAlpine. “The rail trail project stalled after that. We weren’t seeing the progress that we wanted to get done. The Lynnfield component of the project is very involved because the rail trail will go through Reedy Meadow. We felt having more direct control over the engineer would accelerate the project.”
Lynnfield town officials recommended last summer that the Select Board end the pact with WorldTech. The Select Board supported the recommendation, and the split was amicable.
“We weren’t making the progress that we thought we should be making,” said Lynnfield DPW Director John Tomasz. “We are still working with Wakefield as part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation plan.”
“We think having a more direct relationship with the engineer will accelerate the pace for the Lynnfield side,” said McAlpine. “Wakefield is continuing to work in parallel with us, and will continue working with WorldTech. It’s a little bit of a split, but we are still working with Wakefield to receive the state funding for construction from MassDOT.”
Select Board Chairman Phil Crawford said ending the partnership with WorldTech is in “the town’s best interest moving forward.”
Tomasz said town officials interviewed three firms to replace WorldTech, and decided to hire Stantec.
“We felt Stantec was the best firm,” said Tomasz. “They have extensive experience. They just finished an extensive rail trail in Salisbury. That rail trail goes through wetlands and has bridges, so they have dealt with all of the different components that we are dealing with in Lynnfield. We have an excellent team with a lot of experience. Stantec’s price was right within our range, which is about $380,000. That includes a grant and town money.”
Tomasz said town officials will be meeting with Stantec representatives to discuss progress updates each month.
“We are going to sit down with the engineer every month to go over what the issues are and what progress they are making,” said Tomasz. “I think having the town work directly with the state is going to help us out.”
McAlpine noted that Friends of the Lynnfield Rail Trail member Rich Kosian will be attending the monthly meetings with town officials and Stantec.
“We are working more closely with the Friends of the Lynnfield Rail Trail,” said McAlpine. “Rich is going to be working directly with us and the engineer to keep that group more informed. He is a former consultant who is very knowledgeable, and he decided to take on the liaison role to help the Friends stay up-to-date.”
Wakefield Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio said the town is “happy with WorldTech.”
“Both towns will continue to work together on the Reedy Meadow portion of the rail trail, which is the project’s most environmentally sensitive area,” said Maio. “We will continue to work together on that portion of the trail because the longer the trail goes, the better it is. We are at the point now where a lot of time is going to be spent on the Reedy Meadow area. Wakefield is looking forward to completing our portion of the trail, part of which was already paved by National Grid as part of the transmission line project. We are going to try and get those areas wrapped up while we work together with Lynnfield on the Reedy Meadow area.”