Big Turnout for Minuteman Bikeway Extension Public Hearing

Passing beneath Concord Road, a locomotive on the Reformatory Branch, long before it became part of the Minuteman Bikeway extension. Locomotive 1458 is seen leading the “BB Local” freight train towards Concord on July 21, 1952.

 

On February 6, a large crowd gathered at Town Hall for a 25% design public hearing on the proposed Minuteman Bikeway Extension project in Bedford, held by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

The hearing was held to give the public the opportunity to become fully informed about the proposed improvements to the Bikeway Extension project and offer opinions and comments to MassDOT.

The project will connect the existing Minuteman Bikeway that currently ends at Depot Park to the Reformatory Branch Trail, as well as provide ADA compliant accessibility and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, improve roadway drainage on Railroad Avenue, and formalize parking at various Railway entrances.

These improvements will provide new transportation routes for regional and local commuters, as well as for students to get to school.

Click this link to view MassDOT’s slide deck

The proposed project is in two segments, the Railroad Avenue section and the Reformatory Branch Trail section, and ends at the Concord town line just northwest of Concord Road.

The proposal includes reconstructing Railroad Avenue between its intersection with South Road and the sharp north turn near the middle school fields. The design incorporates a paved 10-foot wide shared-use path on the south side of Railroad Avenue and a 5.5-foot wide sidewalk on the north side, separated from the vehicle lanes by a 3.5-foot grass buffer. It also includes narrowing Railroad Avenue to a pair of 10-foot travel lanes with two-foot shoulders and pavement markings, defined curb cuts, signage, and improved drainage and stormwater collection.

The second segment connects the Railroad Avenue section with the Reformatory Branch Trail near the middle school fields. Currently, the trail is unpaved and does not provide safe crossings at Hartwell Avenue or Concord Road. Some parts are overgrown with vegetation, leaving only a narrow beaten path.

The proposed design includes a paved 12-foot wide shared-use path with three-foot shoulders on either side and incorporates railings as needed due to safety in drop off areas. It also includes regrading and reconstructing parking lots at Railroad Avenue, Lavender Lane, and Concord Road. The improvements also provide for access to adjacent trails and side streets, protected crossings with flashing beacons at Railroad Avenue and Hartwell Road, and a Bikeway box culvert underpass at Concord Road/Route 62. The underpass is planned for the same location as the original underpass used for the Bedford train that ran on the Reformatory Branch long ago.

After the MassDOT presentation, the meeting shifted to public comments, starting with Margot Fleischman representing the Selectmen. Fleischman stated the Selectmen, and the town of Bedford, have consistently supported this project, and fully support this proposal. Town residents, including abutters, current Bikeway and Reformatory Branch Trail users, and others made comments and asked questions of the project panel. Many questions and comments about safety for pedestrians and younger users were discussed, and the panel said they would consider them as they continue to the next design phase. The meeting was recorded and documented so that all comments and concerns can be reviewed by MassDOT, and where feasible, incorporated into the design of the project. Anyone can submit written comments and mail them directly to MassDOT to be considered as well. Written comments must be received by MassDOT by 10 days after the public hearing. The submission form can be found here: https://www.bedfordma.gov/sites/bedfordma/files/events/minuteman_bikeway_extension_2-6-20.pdf

The next phases of the project include the

  • 75% design submittal in spring 2020,
  • 100% design submittal in fall 2020 and
  • beginning construction in spring 2022.

The project is expected to be completed in 2022. Construction costs for this project will be 80% funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and 20% funded by the state. None of the construction costs are to be paid for by the Town of Bedford.

For earlier articles on the Bikeway Extension, click here:

More information is available at the MassDOT web site, along with the hearing handout.

The project’s history is available through the Bedford Department of Public Works Minuteman Bikeway page


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