Clipper City Rail Trail has been an unbelievable success. Not only has it been used heavily but from the calls to the DPS, so many are using it even during the snow storms that the trail has to be plowed constantly. It has elevated the property values of surrounding neighborhoods most recently along Merrimac Street and been a positive influence in other sections. It has finally strengthened a link between the Train Station and the downtown and has enhanced culture with art and historic interpretive stations. It has increased the desirability of the waterfront from Towle to the Coast Guard Station.
Now a new area of interest is Clipper City Rail Trail Phase II.
Geordie Vining has indicated that the physical rework and completion of this part won’t become a reality until 2018.
That is totally unacceptable and the hard-working volunteers of the Coastal Trails Coalition shouldn’t be sitting around lethargic waiting for this reality. Like the hard-hitting volunteers in Salisbury, much can be done now to have a partially functioning section in the meantime.
It means fighting the roadblocks or at least mitigating some path in the meantime. Fortunately, the biggest section is already in use. This is a path that runs from just south of Subway/Dominos, runs along the old train spur to Parker Street, crosses into the quarry and goes all the way to March’s Hill and High Street. Bicyclists, dog walkers, joggers, pedestrians and train commuters are using the stretch on a regular basis.
The next stretch from High Street to Hancock Street has some tough roadblocks but has steadily been worked on by the CTC volunteers. The first has been the refusal by a High Street homeowner just east of the trail to grant an easement so the public can pass by on the route. Thankfully, the same homeowner has now signed the easement and soon one less roadblock has to be contended with. Second, the railroad placed large concrete blocks at both ends of the underpass. These have to be removed so people can ride and walk in safety. A large wooden block on the underpass has to be removed also. For some reason, the DPS seems to be reluctant to remove these obstacles. The rest of the railroad area has largely been cleared by Coastal Trail volunteers but a chain link fence stops free passage to Hancock Street and beyond. Then another series of chain link fences have to be opened up so the bike or pedestrian can have free access to Purchase Street. The short length south from Purchase has been cleanly cleared by the CTC volunteers. With some pressure, the trail can eventually make it all the way to Water Street.
From there, the trail runs along the water behind the sewer plant all the way to the National Grid property. Just recently, the Planning Office has been granted an easement by the Coast Guard and intense negotiations are underway with the utility company.
The fact is that some rough form of the Trail can be completed with a lot of dedicated volunteer man hours and some common sense modifications like opening up fences and removing barriers.
It is a fact that we can have a functioning Phase II that everyone can use while waiting for the ‘fancy’ Federal/State funded version in 2018*.
* Besides, this is six years after the end of the world!