New Rail Trail To Link Groton-Townsend

A Private Initiative: No Public Funds Needed

Groton Landmark - June 27, 2013

Squannacook Greenways, a local nonprofit organization, announces that it has been awarded an $18,000 grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts to kick start a fundraising drive for construction of the Squannacook River Rail Trail.

The planned Squannacook River Rail Trail will be a 3.7-mile stone dust rail trail on the existing MBTA rail bed, with a western end in Townsend Center. It will travel east just south of Rte.119, passing behind Harbor Village Shopping Center, where it will parallel Townsend Rd. in Groton until it reaches Bertozzi Wildlife area.

Unlike other rail trails in Massachusetts, Squannacook River Rail Trail is not being built by a town or the state. Instead, it is being built by the non-profit, Squannacook Greenways. All monies needed to build this trail will be raised by Squannacook Greenways. This is possible because the trail will be stone dust which is much less expensive to build and maintain than a paved trail.

Total budget for the 3.7-mile trail is $150,000-$200,000. For comparison, a paved trail in Massachusetts is estimated to cost about $1M a mile. This trail will cost 1/20th of that per mile. With this generous grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, along with money given directly by the board, Squannacook is already at 15 percent of its goal, before the group starts external fundraising.

One motivation for building the Squannacook River Rail Trail is to provide a safe alternative to busy roads such as Rte. 119 for pedestrians and bicyclists, especially the youth of our community. In addition Squannacook River Rail Trail will provide connections to other trail networks. It is also envisioned that subsequent sections of the trail would extend into Ayer where it would link up with Nashua River Rail Trail.

With this grant as the foundation for the fundraising campaign, Squannacook Greenways hopes that the day will come much sooner when there is a safe route for everyone wanting to ride or walk from Groton to Townsend and back again.