Progress Made on $18M Twin Cities Rail Trail in Massachusetts

Wed August 19, 2020 - Northeast Edition
CEG

Brush and trees have been cleared to pave the way for Phase One of the Twin Cities Rail Trail, a 4.5-mile bike path that will connect the towns of Leominster and Fitchburg, Mass.
Brush and trees have been cleared to pave the way for Phase One of the Twin Cities Rail Trail, a 4.5-mile bike path that will connect the towns of Leominster and Fitchburg, Mass.



A congressman's vision is one step closer to reality, now that brush and trees have been cleared to pave the way for Phase One of the Twin Cities Rail Trail, a 4.5-mile bike path that will connect the towns of Leominster and Fitchburg, Mass.

U.S. Rep. John Olver, the Twin Cities' congressman at the time, envisioned the recreational and environment-preserving potential of this project when he secured a Rail Trail earmark two decades ago.

Most of the preliminary clearing work for this recreational jewel has been completed. The first phase of the project will extend the trail from the Fifth Street Bridge in Fitchburg to Carter Park in Leominster.

Phase Two, which will extend the trail into the downtown areas, will occur next summer.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) awarded the construction contract for the first phase of the project in May to J. H. Lynch & Sons Inc. of Cumberland, Rhode Island, which submitted a $7.542 million bid for the initial work.

When completed, the rail trail, which will follow the decommissioned Fitchburg & Worcester Railroad line, will connect Mechanic Street in downtown Leominster and the Intermodal Transportation Center on Water Street in downtown Fitchburg. Both communities are located northwest of Boston, near Worchester.

The paved trail would be 12 ft. wide, providing enough clearance for two lanes of walking and cycling, and for emergency vehicles if necessary.

Along the way, it will pass through the South Fitchburg Playground and Fitchburg Municipal Airport in Fitchburg, and the Doyle Conservation Area, HealthAlliance-Leominster Hospital, Watertower Plaza, historic Doyle Field, Pine Grove Cemetery and Carter Park in Leominster.

Like everything else in life, the coronavirus pandemic pushed back the construction timeline beyond early spring, though just slightly.

The rail trail project has an estimated price tag of $18 million — $14.4 million in federal funds and $3.6 million in state money.