LYNNFIELD — The Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail’s design is slowly progressing, Lynnfield Town Engineer Patrick McAlpine stated last week.

The rail trail is a proposed shared-use path that will connect Wakefield and Lynnfield 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 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 2.53 miles.

“It will also feature tie-ins at Lynnfield Middle School and Lynnfield High School,” McAlpine stated in a press release. “The Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail will act as a bridge between Lynnfield and Wakefield, and will allow Lynnfield residents access to the Reddy Meadow. The project is supported by both Lynnfield and Wakefield and is being designed by WorldTech Engineering, LLC. MassDOT will fund the construction via its Transportation Improvement Program. (TIP).”

McAlpine said construction of the rail trail was originally supposed to begin in the spring of 2022.

“The project has had significant design delays and is now slated for a construction year of 2026,” said McAlpine. “The main design issues revolve around the construction of the elevated boardwalk in the Reedy Meadow. Currently, the design effort focuses around completing a refined hydraulic study of the flood elevations in Reedy Meadow. This updated hydraulic study will hopefully allow the boardwalk to be shortened. In parallel, the geotechnical aspects of the site are being additionally investigated as requested by the MassDOT geotechnical section. Due to the environmental restrictions of the meadow, work has been slowly progressing. Once the hydraulic study is complete, the project team will move on to environmental permitting. No further schedule slide is anticipated.”

Select Board Chairman Phil Crawford recently stated that the rail trail will be one of the board’s main focus areas over the next year. He said WorldTech Engineering will be holding a public information meeting to update Lynnfield and Wakefield residents about the project.

“We also need to update the construction schedule to make sure it has a clear timeline,” said Crawford. “We are going to proceed with managing the ongoing regulatory and permitting requirements. Besides moving the project up the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) State Transportation Improvement Program list, permitting has been the biggest delay.”

McAlpine said Lynnfield will be creating a webpage about the rail trail that will include updates about the project.

“The town will establish a webpage associated with the town website to allow transparent updates and provide a home for past updates,” stated McAlpine. “This webpage will also host general project information. Additionally, it is the goal of the town to schedule a public meeting.”

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 Spring Town Meeting by a 342-341 vote. The rail trail passed 1,859 votes to 1,679 votes during the April 2019 Town Election.

If residents have any questions about the rail trail, they can contact McAlpine at 781-334-9500 or [email protected]