Mass Central Rail Trail
In 2016, the Board of Selectmen received news of plans by Eversource wanting to update its access road within the former Mass Central Railroad corridor and the utility company's subsequent partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which had plans to create a 23-mile long rail trail from Berlin to Waltham. So, the Board appointed the Rail Trail Advisory Committee to determine how best to accommodate the Mass Central Rail Trail - Wayside (MCRT) in Weston, as well as to ensure the protection of Weston's historic and conservation assets along the three-mile corridor.
The Rail Trail Advisory Committee spent three years diligently preparing for the DCR-owned recreational asset in Weston. The Committee worked closely with abutters, the Conservation Administrator, and the Department of Public Works. Weston's portion of the MCRT-Wayside was opened on October 19, 2019.
In working with the Recreation Department, members of the Committee secured state funds to assist in Weston’s planning portion of the MCRT, including landscape screening, parking, and signage. To date, $100,000 has been awarded through the state’s Recreational Trails Program, overseen by Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and a $57,279 matching grant from DCR’s Partnership Matching Fund Program. The grants will be used to offset the $510,000 in Community Preservation Act funds that have been previously approved by Town Meeting in 2017 and 2018.
Working with Weston's Department of Public Works, rail trail parking areas have been installed at the spurs along Concord Road and Church Street. Parking to access the rail trail will be at these two locations and Town House Road.
Signage, Landscaping, and Amenities
The Committee is developing signage and benches and working with a landscape architect to assist with landscape screening for affected abutters along the trail.
A non-profit group, Friends of the Legacy Rail Trail, is also being developed to assist with future funding and activities.
Mass Central Rail Trail: The Bigger Picture
The corridor of the old Mass Central Railroad line is 104 miles long, extending from Northampton, Mass. to Boston. Portions of the railroad corridor have been converted to rail trails, such as the Northampton Bike Path, the Norwottuck Rail Trail, and the rail trails near Rutland, Holden, Oakdale, and Clinton; however, there are some portions that are not developed or accessible. There are several parties across the state looking to connect the entire length.
Rail Trail = State Rules
Weston's trails permit off-leash dog walking, per the Dog By-law, but the rail trail is state property and dog walkers MUST leash their pets (on a short lead) when approaching AND walking on the Mass Central Rail Trail.
Further, this is a multi-use recreational path, which means bicyclists, joggers, walkers, dogs, horseback riders, etc. need to share the trail.
- All users yield to horses
- Keep to the right to allow those moving faster to pass
- When passing, announce your approach and passing side (i.e. "On your left")
- Keep control of your dog - do not allow them to chase or jump at joggers/bicyclists
- Pick up and properly dispose of dog waste (in an offsite garbage bin)
Carry-in/carry-out rules apply, which means there are no garbage cans. Take your trash, including dog waste, with you.