Minuteman Bikeway Extension Project

Project News:

(3/24/2022) Minuteman Bikeway Annual Town Meeting - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs - click here)

(3/21/2022) The Conservation Commission approved the Notice of Intent filed by the DPW for the project’s environmental impacts at their February 9th monthly meeting. Landscape Plan with rendering for Railroad Avenue parking area and wetland replication plantings (sheet 75 of 182) can be found here. The Arbor Resource Committee continued their review and discussion of the Project at their meeting on February 24th. As described in the tree removal application cover memo, 20 public street trees are being removed, with 68 trees being planted as replacements. 4.34 acres of trees will also be cleared along the existing Reformatory Branch Trail. While the total number of acres sounds extensive, the project is primarily pushing back the forest/brush along the approximate 1.7 miles of former rail corridor in order to access, widen where necessary, and pave the existing cleared trail. Per the Town Tree Policy, $21,700 will be contributed to the Tree Removal Mitigation Revolving Fund.

(1/27/2022) In December, 2021 MassDOT approved the 75% Right-of-way plans for acquisition, which enabled the Town to obtain independent appraisals of all affected property owners. As required by federal law, this state and federally-funded project requires that property owners providing easements or land for this project are compensated at the highest market value price. The funding for these acquisitions are paid for by the Town, and will go before residents at the 2022 Annual Town Meeting for approval. In January, 2022 the 100% Design plans for the Bikeway were submitted to MassDOT for review. On January 27, 2022 the Arbor Resources Committee met to review the tree removal and landscape plans. On February 9, 2022 the Conservation Commission will hold a public hearing to review the Notice of Intent filed regarding the project’s environmental impacts.

(11/19/2020) On October 30, 2020, 75% Design Plans were submitted by the Town’s consultant to MassDOT for review. As a result of the comments received as part of the Design Public Hearing held in February, 2020, several changes had been made to the plans as described below:
  • New Connections: On the west side of Concord Road, a sidewalk connection to Bonnievale Drive was added, as well as a ramp connecting the new sidewalk down to the Minuteman Bikeway below.
  • The parking lots at Railroad Avenue, Lavender Lane, and Concord Road will now feature permeable pavement instead of gravel. The layout of the parking lot at Lavender Lane was reoriented parallel to the path. This revision will improve safety by eliminating the need for pedestrians and cyclists to cross over an active driveway. Landscape screening was added to provide additional privacy for neighboring homes.
  • Shoulder Surface: 3-foot-wide stone dust shoulders was added throughout the off-road portion of the shared use path. This will enable a runners/walkers to utilize the shoulder where the slope and grading is relatively flat. 
  • Bikeway amenities were added at the Concord Road parking lot to include a picnic table, bike racks, and drinking fountain. Interpretative signs at the former sites of the Shady Hill and West Bedford train stations were also included.
  • Signs & Striping: Sign and striping plans were developed to help users navigate both the Railroad Avenue and off-road portions of the shared-use path safely.

For additional information, please contact bikeway@bedfordma.gov.
 

Project Overview:

The Minuteman Bikeway, a popular rail trail for regional commuters and recreational users, currently ends at Depot Park near the intersection of South Road and Loomis Street. This project will extend the Bikeway to just before the Bedford/Concord Town Line via a paved 12-foot-wide path along the Reformatory Branch Trail. To connect the Bikeway to the Trail, the south side of Railroad Avenue will be made accessible to bicycles and pedestrians via a 10-foot-wide shared use path.

The Town had received approval from MassDOT in 2014 to use state and federal funding for construction. The project is now earmarked for the FY2022 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) at a projected cost of $11,000,168. The Town is responsible for design costs, right-of-way acquisitions, and non-participating construction costs unrelated to the Bikeway itself such as fiber optic upgrades.

The following timeline is anticipated:

  • MassDOT 25% Design Public Hearing - February 6, 2020
  • 75% Design Development - October, 2020
  • 100% Design Submission - January, 2022
  • Right-of-Way Acquisition
  • Environmental Permitting
  • Construction Advertisement - August, 2022
  • Anticipated Construction – Spring, 2023 to Fall, 2024

Project Scope:

Location

Description

Railroad Avenue

 

  • 10’ wide separated shared use path along south side of Railroad Avenue
  • 5.5’ wide sidewalk along north side of Railroad Avenue
  • Installation of Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons at mid-block crossing adjacent to parking area
  • Upgrades to Railroad Avenue parking area

Off Road Shared Use Path

(Railroad Avenue to Concord Town Line)

 

  • 12’ wide paved, shared use path with 3’ shoulders
  • Access to adjacent pathways and side streets
  • 4’ tall split rail fencing along sections of steep grade
  • Installation of Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons at Hartwell Road crossing
  • Construction of new parking area at Lavender Lane
  • Upgrades to Concord Road parking area
  • Bikeway underpass at Concord Road (Route 62)
Project History:

DATE

MILESTONE

2004Town Meeting approves funding for feasibility study.

2005

A Reformatory Branch Rail to Trail feasibility study first examined extending the Minuteman Bikeway along the former Reformatory Branch of the B&M Railroad.

2008

A supplemental study was conducted to examine path surface treatment options, constructability, anticipated impacts, maintenance requirements and costs.

2010

Town Meeting approves using bituminous asphalt surface for the off-road portion of the Bikeway, and approves extending the project from Concord Road to the Concord Town Line.

2011Town Meeting approves design funding

2010 – 2015

Bike accommodations along Railroad Avenue were extensively studied and discussed. A shared-use path, as recommended by MassDOT, was ultimately approved by the Select Board.

2014

MassDOT approves the use of State and Federal funding, through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

2016Town Meeting approves funding for design of the project. 

2016 - 2017

MassDOT requested that an underpass be used at the Concord Road crossing for safety reasons. An analysis was conducted and presented to the Select Board on February 13, 2017.

2017

25% Design Plans submitted to MassDOT for review and comment. Project was approved by the MPO for FFY22 TIP funding.

April, 2019

Town/VHB hosted an open house for the project abutters to discuss the project status and any specific ROW questions/concerns, impacts, etc.

July, 2019

Select Board signs VHB contract amendment to fund design of the Concord Road underpass, and take the project to 100% design.

Fall, 2020

Design Public Hearing held by MassDOT at Town Hall on February 6, 2020.

November, 2020

75% Design Plans submitted to MassDOT.

August, 2021Arbor Resource Committee reviewed tree removal and landscape plans at August 18th meeting.
December, 202175% Right-of-Way Plans approved for acquisition by MassDOT. Appraisals preformed on all affected privately-owned parcels.
January, 2022100% Design Plans submitted to MassDOT. Arbor Resource Committee reviewed revised tree removal landscape plans at January 27th meeting.
February, 2022Conservation Commission reviews and approves Notice of Intent, Town property dedications, and Section 4(f) forms at February 9th meeting.
March, 2022

Annual Town Meeting authorizes $1.5M to purchase the lands rights needed to construct the project. However, the article required to grant permission for the Town to purchase the land rights through an eminent domain process, only obtained 60% of the votes required, whereas a 2/3rds supermajority vote was needed.

May, 2022The Select Board votes to bring back the project’s right-of-way acquisition to fall Special Town Meeting

Documents: