After four hours of discussion and voting, Concord's April 2008 Town Meeting approved the Town's 25% preliminary design for the rail trail. It will now be submitted to the state for its review and approval. This design also incorporates two design changes: to replace the culvert under Powder Mill Road and to use an asphalt surface the entire length of the trail in Concord.
Town Meeting voted on a total of 4 articles relating to the rail trail. The Friends strongly supported the article to approve the Town's 25% design and opposed an article for a private design.
The article to approve the Town's 25% design received 67% of the vote, passing by a vote of 501 to 247. A second, privately funded design, which would have stipulated using stone dust for the entire length of the trail in Concord, failed, 229 to 504, garnering just 31% of the vote.
A third article, calling for an asphalt surface, passed 360 to 257, 58% of the vote.
One additional article for up to $50,000 in funding for environmental studies, additional surveying, and other studies passed by an overwhelming majority vote.
Eight Community Outreach Meetings were held during the spring and early fall of 2007. At these meetings the consulting firm, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB), presented information on a variety of topics, including standard design criteria, trail alignment, people management, bridges and road crossings, private property protections, historic artifacts, and environmental findings. Information from these meetings is available as FAQ on the Town web site:
Assuming the rail trail meets federal and state design criteria for accessibility and trail layout, 90% of the total costs of rail trail design and construction will be eligible for Federal and state funding. The Town of Concord will pay for the remaining 10% of the costs.
The consultants hired by the Town will provide many ways that abutting home owners can be protected. Prior to final design, mitigation measures, such as natural vegetation, fencing and signs will be planned to meet the needs of individual abutters. This cost of the mitigation efforts will be part of the final construction cost.
The consultants hired by the Town will be asked to provide extensive information on trail width and trail surfaces. The Town will then be able to make an informed decision on both issues.
No. The entire corridor in Concord is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation (EOT). Concord will secure a long term lease from EOT.
Yes. The initial feasibility study, issued in August 2005, examined two alternate routes to keep the trail away from White Pond. The consultants reviewed these routes and determined that neither was a safe alternative for trail users. (This was later verified by state officials.) The RFP is asking the new consultant to explore different routes that might be suitable and safe for all users.
Water quality of the pond has been monitored over the years by both the state and a citizens group. Variations in the water quality have been attributed to both legal and illegal swimming, erosion of ground materials into the pond, levels of rainfall, and other sources of contamination such as animal waste and failed septic systems. Construction of the rail trail, using state of the art construction procedures, is expected to have no negative impact on the water quality of White Pond.
Swimming at White Pond is prohibited from Town-owned land. Illegal swimming is a seasonal problem and has been a problem for many years. The Town has taken actions recently to address the problem, including hiring two part-time rangers. The rail trail is not the cause of illegal swimming in White Pond, rather it has been a catalyst in getting the Town to address the problem. With regular monitoring by the rangers, and with well designed fencing and signage indicating that swimming is not allowed at White Pond, the rail trail should not increase illegal swimming at the pond.