Benefits of the Trail


• Open Space • Blair Square • Transportation • Safety • “Safe Routes to School” •
Links to Community Areas and Other Trails • Scenic Views
• Historic Preservation and Resources • Health • Community Events • Railbanking •


User Benefits

Based on the Upper Charles Feasibility Study (MAPC 1997), the total trail could generate from approximately 1,184 users per day on a weekday and 2,516 users per day on a weekend/holiday. The distribution of users is anticipated to be 68% bicycling, 17% skating and 14% pedestrian based on studies performed on the Norwottuck and MinuteMan Rail Trails. Milford has completed approximately 6 miles of its 6.7 mile section. Milford conducted user counts and have exceeded the users that were estimated for the fully built trail with its 6 mile section alone.

Economic Benefits

Based on the Upper Charles Feasibility Study (MAPC 1997), the originally conceived 27 miles of the total trail could generate from $10,064 to $27,676 per day on a weekend day ($13,300 to $36,500 adjusted to 2009). Given the section within Holliston is 6.7 miles the trail could generate a range from $2,816 to $6,867 ($3,103 to $7,300 adjusted to 2009) when the Trail is fully established. The full amount of this benefit, however, would not be realized until the trail is fully established. Additionally, studies have shown increased property values to residences along multi-use trails.

Open Space

The multi-use trail will be a linear park that will provide active recreation for the residents of Holliston as well as others in the region. The trail will be available for non-motorized transportation including walking, jogging, roller-blading, bicycling, and cross-country skiing. The trail provides a connection between residential areas and various conservation and recreation areas including Weston Pond Open Space and Recreation Area, Wenakeening Woods Conservation Area, Mission Springs Recreation Area, Lake Winthrop, Frank Rees Outdoor Classroom, the Adams, Placentino and Miller Schools, and the Dopping Brook Conservation Area.

Blair Square

A section of the right of way between Railroad, Front and Central Streets is wider than typical affording the potential to have a small “park” in the downtown area as a focal point along the trail. A conceptual plan was prepared by Landscape Architects at Beals and Thomas, Inc. showing areas for picnicking, outdoor performances, gazebo, an historic engine or caboose, a visitor center and parking facilities.

Holliston Blair Square across from CVS and Casey's Crossing at the intersection of Central St. and Railroad Ave.

Transportation

The Trail will ultimately provide a route that leads to the Ashland and Framingham Commuter Rail stations. The potential exists for commuters to use the trail to access the railroad station, lowering congestion on roadways. One commuter uses the railbed everyday from his home in Milford to work at Hopping Brook Park.

Safety

The Trail provides a very important benefit to the Town with respect to a safety. The Trail provides for a safe route for riding of bicycles, skating and walking. The Town has very few areas to safely ride bicycles since its roads are heavily traveled and have inadequate width for bicycle lanes. The trail provides a potential means to provide Safe Routes to School, off-road with only a 10 total at-grade crossings in 6.7 miles of trail.

“Safe Routes to School”

“Safe Routes to School” programs advocate improving the health of children and their communities by making walking and bicycling to school safer, easier, and more enjoyable. Communities around the country are beginning to organize their own efforts to encourage children to walk or bike to school.” (American Society of Landscape Architects, Land Online April 4, 2005) The proposed Trail will provide a safe route for a number of children from the “Mudville” section as well as downtown areas to get to the Miller and Placentino Schools on Woodland Street.

Links

The Trail provides the opportunity for a safe route that links various conservation lands, schools and recreation areas. The trail provides a walkable community, linking the neighborhoods with the downtown areas. Conservation and recreation lands are located along the route include the Dopping Brooks Wetlands, Factory Pond, the Frank and Dorothy Rees Outdoor Classroom, Lake Winthrop, Wenakeening Woods, Mission Springs Recreation Area, and the Weston Pond Recreation Area. Potential connections to the “Headwaters” project could provide access to this existing trail network system in the towns of Holliston, Hopkinton and Milford.

A portion of the Trail will coincide with a proposed section of the Bay Circuit Trail. The Bay Circuit Trail is part of an open space “necklace” envisioned in the early 1900’s to encircle the Boston area. www.serve.com/baycircuit/

Other trails connecting to the Upper Charles Trail are currently being planned including the Southern Loop of the Upper Charles Trail and a connection to the Southern New England Trunkline Trail.

Further in the future are connections to the Cochituate Rail Trail www.crtrail.org, the Nobscot Trail and the Wayside Trail. If inter-connections are made to the Wayside Trail, then the Upper Charles Trail would connect to the popular Minuteman Trail.

Scenic

The Trail passes scenic portions of the Town including the view to Factory Pond, the historic stone eight-arch trestle, and stone tunnels at Arch Street and Highland Street. The Trail passes the scenic Wheeler Hill farm and the Mill Pond at the Wenakeening Woods. Beyond Cross Street the Trail passes over a number of historic cattle passes used to ensure the safe passage of cattle across the rail to what was once pasture on the opposite side of the tracks.

Blair Square

A section of the right of way between Railroad, Front and Central Streets is wider than typical affording the potential to have a small “park” in the downtown area as a focal point along the trail. A conceptual plan was prepared by Landscape Architects at Beals and Thomas, Inc. showing areas for picnicking, outdoor performances, gazebo, an historic engine or caboose, a visitor center and parking facilities.

Cattle crossing that passes underneath the Holliston rail trail

Historic Preservation

Structures along the railbed are considered significant historical resources. Most notable is the 8-Arch Stone Trestle along Woodland Street with its Milford Pink Granite structure. The bridge is a rare use of Milford Granite as a structure, most often the granite is used as a thin veneer on the façade of buildings. This structure is being considered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission for a preservation plan under the National Historical Preservation Act of 1966. Other historic structures include the stone Arch Street Stone bridge, numerous cattle passes and historic markers.

Structures currently listed on the Massachusetts Cultural Resources Information System (MACRIS) include three railroad structures: Bogastow Brook Viaduct (HLS.907), Arch Street Railroad Bridge (HLS.909) and the Highland Street Railroad Tunnel (HLS.908).

Historic Resources

The Trail could provide access to the historic cranberry bogs located in the town of Holliston Conservation land in the western end of the town. A productive cranberry bog could be re-established to provide the context for the historic “Holliston” cranberry. This could be established in the bogs in this part of the town.

Health

The Trail can provide quality of life benefits promoting exercise and healthful lifestyles. www.americantrails.org/resources/benefits/TrailsHealth.pdf

Community Events

The Trail provides the opportunity for a variety of community festivals, charity events, school trips and historic or environmental educational programs. Already Blair Square has been used for festivals, Garden Club booth, dedication ceremonies, Winter Walk, and Spring Stroll.

Milford Upper Charles Trail activities: Full moon walk, Family Fun Fair, Easter Egg Hunt, Dog Walk, Bird and Bat House Tour, Clean up days, Vernal Pool Hike.

Railbanking

Approximately 4 miles of the trail is preserved under “Railbanking Status.”
This is a type of agreement between a rail carrier ready to abandon a rail line and a party interested in converting the rail line for trail use. Rail banking allows the use of the line for a trail while preserving the option of restoring rail service to the line in the future. This agreement also keeps the right-of-way intact and precludes the rights of use of adjoining property owners. According to a 1999 GAO Report, three formerly rail banked lines have been returned to rail service nationally.

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