Published June 30, 2021
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail’s design is continuing to progress, Town Administrator Rob Dolan said during a June 23 episode of “Town Talk.”
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 would go through Reedy Meadow via an elevated boardwalk. The Wakefield component of the trail would be 1.8 miles while Lynnfield’s would be 2.5 miles.
“With COVID dominating the news, we want to let you know loud and clear that the rail trail is still moving forward,” said Dolan. “Some significant progress has been made.”
Dolan said WorldTech Engineering is currently working on the 25 percent design of the rail trail. He also said local officials are working with state environmental agencies in order to prepare for the project’s permitting process.
“We are working with agencies, particularly the Massachusetts Department of Transportation as well as some of our contractors, in order to move this important project forward,” said Dolan.
Town Engineer Charlie Richter agreed.
“We have been meeting with a lot of environmental groups such as National Heritage and the Department of Environmental Protection to go over some of the permitting issues we may face in the design process,” said Richter. “National Heritage is a state group that is in charge of protecting the endangered species in the state of Massachusetts.”
In response to a question from Dolan, Richter said WorldTech Engineering is working on the layout for the rail trail. He also said the firm is working on a preliminary design for the boardwalk and bridge portion of the rail trail that will run through Reedy Meadow.
“The goal is we will have a 75 percent design ready by 2022,” said Richter.
Dolan asked if the 75 percent design will be considered “construction ready.”
“It’s pretty close,” said Richter. “By the time we reach the 75 percent design stage, we will pretty much have the entire project designed.”
Despite the economic impact caused by the pandemic, Dolan said MassDOT still has rail trail projects “front and center on their agenda.” Richter added that the Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail is “a very important project for MassDOT.”
“They consider it a vital link for the rail trail system for the state of Massachusetts,” said Richter. “They are fully behind this project and are excited to see us moving along.”
Dolan recalled that a Special Town Meeting held in September 2019 approved allocating $348,000 for the rail trail’s final design by a 585-380 vote. The rail trail previously passed the 2017 April Town Meeting by a 342-341 vote. The rail trail passed 1,859 votes to 1,679 votes during the April 2019 Town Election.
“We are fully funded for this design and we are proceeding full speed ahead on the design,” said Richter.
Friends of the Lynnfield Rail Trail President Vince Inglese concurred with Richter’s viewpoint.
“We are excited to see the progress,” said Inglese. “We want things to keep moving in a timely and prudent manner. We know that nothing great happens easily, so we have to be patient with this process.”
Inglese recalled that National Grid recently paved the first layer of a one-mile section of the rail trail from Vernon Street to the Galvin Middle School in Wakefield. National Grid undertook that component of the project as part of an ongoing transmission line improvement project in Wakefield.
“We are excited to have that completed,” said Inglese.
Richter, who lives in close proximity to the Wakefield portion of the rail trail, has closely watched that component of the project be undertaken.
“My kids are very excited about it,” said Richter. “I live two houses down from the rail trail and have seen the pavers out there. My kids want to get out there as soon as that asphalt cools.”
Dolan said he has talked with a number of people who have “fallen in love with the state’s beautiful trail system” since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020.
“We are looking forward to connecting it to other trails in the state,” said Dolan. “The rail trail is front and center for the town, and the plan is to move as quickly as the state allows us.”
Inglese thanked Dolan, Richter, DPW Director John Tomasz, Planning and Conservation Director Emilie Cademartori and the Select Board for their “support and diligence on this project to date.”