Next steps for Swampscott rail trail

April 12, 2017

SWAMPSCOTT — Plans to convert abandoned railroad tracks into a community rail trail will be outlined in a public forum at the Swampscott High School cafeteria Thursday at 7 p.m.

A second informational meeting on the rail trail will be Tuesday, May 2 at 7 p.m. in room B129 at the high school.

“It’s just to learn more and to also be part of the next step of bringing the rail trail to town,” said Peter Kane, director of community development.

Town officials said in a press release it’s been years in the making, but the next big step to making the Swampscott Rail Trail a reality will take place during Town Meeting May 15.

The Board of Selectmen have unanimously sponsored a warrant article requesting $850,000 to be used for the design and engineering of the trail location within the National Grid corridor, as well the legal fees and costs for acquisition of the easement rights, as previously reported in The Item.

The Town Meeting funds would not be for construction of the trail, which would be paid for by donations, grants and private funds, officials said.

Kane said the meetings will give a history of the rail trail process, what the actual process is going forward, show the plan of the relative location of the trail, and discuss how the money will be used.

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The two-plus mile trail would run from the Swampscott Train Station to the Marblehead line at Seaview Avenue, connecting with the Marblehead Rail Trail, which also links to trails in Salem. The 10-feet wide trail would cross Paradise Road, Walker Road and Humphrey Street and then go into Marblehead, officials said.

The rail bed, where National Grid power lines run to Marblehead, has been vacant since the 1960s, when the Marblehead railroad branch shut down. It was sold to National Grid’s predecessor.

The town has full rights to area that separates the ballfields behind the middle school and the middle school. The town would have to acquire the remainder of the easement for recreational use.

The trail was identified as a priority in the Open Space & Recreation Plan in 2013 and last year in the Master Plan process. Town Meeting has approved the creation of the trail on three separate occasions, officials said.

Visit www.swampscottrailtrail.org for information on the rail trail and Town Meeting warrant article.