Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand Trail

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BostonUrbEx
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Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand Trail

Post by BostonUrbEx » Sat Jun 04, 2011 3:10 pm

I know there was some talk being kicked around about Saugus Branch LRT recently and as I was doing my occasional checkup on the Bike to the Sea bike path that I was doing this morning, I found that progress has finally begun. For a while I was starting to think it would never take off, but Iron Horse Preservation has removed rail from just north of the MBTA ballast yard, along Air Force Rd, and up to some point north of that. I went today to check it out and they certainly have been doing work. The website said work was done in late September 2010. Paving (not sure if it'll be crushed gravel/pea gravel or asphalt?) of this 1 mile section is supposed to begin late Spring 2011; so pretty soon then?

They are having a fund raiser and a ride (a ride down what? the ROW is obliterated in so many parts...) a week from tomorrow with registration ending this coming Friday.


http://www.biketothesea.com/

I'll probably register to go as it is the only thing that will preserve this ROW, honestly it is in such awful, awful condition it is ridiculous.

Anyways, I believe Iron Horse's presence and the fact that things have actually progressed (towns have pulled 99 year leases from the T) is a sign that this is the official end. Maybe one day some sort of rail will return again, but for now it is officially kaput.

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by BostonUrbEx » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:21 pm

I hit the Danvers path for the first time since they put down gravel this past weekend. It was really nice, but I wish they had a better crossing downtown (Maple St or High St, I think??) and hopefully that will be addressed. The 114 end certainly does end rather abruptly with nowhere to go whatsoever. Except for the grade crossings it is pretty hard to get to any places. It appears they're still doing work though, so I really hope they go all the way to Lowell St rather than the sudden end at the Peabody line. However, walking down some of the untouched ties, eventually it was getting really muddy and stagnant water was on the sides. That obviously needs to be addressed.

And on that note, I think the Saugus Branch is in much better standing for a path and I can't think of any spots which will be very difficult once the encroaches are handled. I can't think of any soft/wet/flooded spots whatsoever.

tom18287
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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by tom18287 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:06 pm

they have officially started in malden....removed some crossings today. RIP.

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by b&m 1566 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:15 pm

I would rather see the construction of a rail trail/paved bike path that will keep the ROW in tacked. Seeing it sold off to the abutting landowners or taken over by encroachers is a site I hate seeing. I assume the sections of ROW that were made into parking lots will no longer be? The trail builders kind of need that space for the path.

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by Reader#108 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:01 pm

This line ran right by the house I grew up in....last year the tracks in Saugus Center were removed all the way down past Boston St. Cafe along the Saugus River....there was a tressle there right before my former watering hole.....have to check and see if it's still there next time I go see my parents.

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Nov 04, 2011 3:49 pm

b&m 1566 wrote:I would rather see the construction of a rail trail/paved bike path that will keep the ROW in tacked. Seeing it sold off to the abutting landowners or taken over by encroachers is a site I hate seeing. I assume the sections of ROW that were made into parking lots will no longer be? The trail builders kind of need that space for the path.
This is a case where path and path NOW is the only to do it. Those encroachers in Malden get booted off and back to their own property lines the second the trail starts getting graded, and they can't muscle back in on a linear park once it's in use. With PAR abandoning its dormant trackage rights we would've only been talking a few years before it was physically blocked by a structure or permanent pave job. It was either now or never because wait till 2015 or '16 and it would've been eaten alive. With Malden being the wonderful little bed of political corruption it is, there would've been no way to crack the whip at those property owners once they formally grabbed what wasn't theirs. This ends up being an excellent defensive move on ROW preservation.

It's too bad the Mayor of Lynn got all hotheaded and spiked (for now) their portion. Have no idea whose pocket she's in, but boy was she hostile to it on pretty cryptic safety grounds. Somebody's manipulating the process to get that kind of reaction. Thankfully that part of the ROW isn't in any danger and there's a few years of construction to go before they reach that end of the line, and it's likely this tiff will be resolved by then.

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by b&m 1566 » Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:39 am

This line is owned by the MBTA correct? I thought I read somewhere that the sections being used as parking lots, was allowed by renting/leasing from the MBTA.

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:32 pm

b&m 1566 wrote:This line is owned by the MBTA correct? I thought I read somewhere that the sections being used as parking lots, was allowed by renting/leasing from the MBTA.
MBTA owns, but granted no such permission. The abutters just muscled in, in some cases paving their lots right up to the edge of the rail. The state tried in vain through much of the 90's and early-00's to attract some business there and barked about the abutters' actions, but the town looked the other way every time. Payola talks in Malden if you're a property owner who lathers up the right folks.

If somebody asked maybe they'd have been willing to scoop some revenue on a lease. But this was outright squatting on land that wasn't theirs. City of Revere is exactly the same with the BRB&L and East Boston Branch abutters who descended like locusts on those ROW's over warnings to stay away.

tom18287
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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by tom18287 » Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:34 pm

i know for a fact some people along the row leased the land for parking.

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by bigbronco85 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:17 am

I grew up seeing the train come by my neighborhood, and even hopped on the back of it with friends like an idiot, riding it from Linden toward the square's direction. I was shocked seeing how quickly the right of way went down the tubes.

Malden is up there when you're talking about corrupt and poorly run cities in the Commonwealth, it's immediately apparent when you see how bad it's gotten compared to 10-20 years ago, and everything mentioned in this thread is true. The city paved over the ROW from just east of Grossman's Bargain Outlet all the way to Main St, and in some places installed parking meters. I didn't understand how this was possible since it wasn't their land? People had been parking there for years and abutting land owners would occassionally dump crushed stone to keep people from having to park in mud puddles. City also put a hockey rink on the high school's parking lot, and had all the teachers park on the tracks where they had paved it. Signs were placed along the tracks saying you couldn't park there unless you were an employee of the school. As students we were pretty much screwed as far as bringing our cars to school went.

They've been talking about this trail for 20 years, I'd think some kind of rail activity would be nice but face it, this is better than seeing idiots take it over for themselves. A lot of the people doing it are the ones who have a business, but also have a position working for the city, etc. I do not know for sure about people getting permission from the T to store large pieces of equipment, etc. there.
-Matt

"Hey, lets go snake hunting and dirt biking on the Saugus Branch, dudes!!!"

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:30 pm

bigbronco85 wrote:I grew up seeing the train come by my neighborhood, and even hopped on the back of it with friends like an idiot, riding it from Linden toward the square's direction. I was shocked seeing how quickly the right of way went down the tubes.

Malden is up there when you're talking about corrupt and poorly run cities in the Commonwealth, it's immediately apparent when you see how bad it's gotten compared to 10-20 years ago, and everything mentioned in this thread is true. The city paved over the ROW from just east of Grossman's Bargain Outlet all the way to Main St, and in some places installed parking meters. I didn't understand how this was possible since it wasn't their land? People had been parking there for years and abutting land owners would occassionally dump crushed stone to keep people from having to park in mud puddles. City also put a hockey rink on the high school's parking lot, and had all the teachers park on the tracks where they had paved it. Signs were placed along the tracks saying you couldn't park there unless you were an employee of the school. As students we were pretty much screwed as far as bringing our cars to school went.

They've been talking about this trail for 20 years, I'd think some kind of rail activity would be nice but face it, this is better than seeing idiots take it over for themselves. A lot of the people doing it are the ones who have a business, but also have a position working for the city, etc. I do not know for sure about people getting permission from the T to store large pieces of equipment, etc. there.
Preservation's the best use for it. The industry's gone, and it doesn't offer any passenger advantages whatsoever with the Eastern Route close and a much straighter shot. Plus the grade crossing hell, and the Orange Line right across the river for part of the trip. Maybe 50 years in the future this looks not-bad as a light rail spur off a light rail Urban Ring that serves to sweep through the bus transfer density between Malden and Lynn in a way the Blue Line Lynn extension does not (and was never intended to). But...50 years is your timetable on that. There's umpteen big, more important things to build before then. Still, that's the whole point of preservation: having the option no matter how distant in an unknown future it is.

There's only a couple gaps left to fill in the Mystic River trail system before the whole shebang is linked to Alewife/Minuteman/Somerville Community Path and the Charles networks. Factor in how the Somerville Path is going to meet the Charles at Northpoint, the Watertown Branch trail linking Alewife et al. to Charles at Arsenal, and couple of the Route 16 accelerated replacement bridges supposedly having better/safer pedestrian space to bridge riverbanks, and there'll be full connectivity around the whole urban core in 5 years. That's why it's such a good trail. It's like a bipedal rapid transit line unto itself like the densest sections of the Minuteman, not one of those less well-connected outer suburb rail-to-trail groaners that's fine for the diehard recreational enthusiasts but frustratingly underutilized vs. a potential rail corridor.

Plus all the satisfaction of policing Malden to stop taking what ain't theirs. :wink:

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by b&m 1566 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:29 pm

For the parts that run near cinder block buildings, are there plans to landscape/beautificate the outer edges of the ROW, so the trail doesn't look like a back alley?

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:30 pm

b&m 1566 wrote:For the parts that run near cinder block buildings, are there plans to landscape/beautificate the outer edges of the ROW, so the trail doesn't look like a back alley?
Job #1 is getting the trail built. Then they'll add benches and other niceties. You'd be surprised what a little cleanup can do. The small segment of Watertown Branch trail on the 1996-landbanked portion completed this spring is absolutely gorgeous-looking. Like a walk in the country despite passing behind the same crud industry along Arsenal that it always did. Saugus Branch won't be as scenic until you get on the conservation land past Route 1, but a couple feet of grassy buffer on the sides makes a world of difference.

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by Dick H » Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:05 pm

Apparently, there is a rail trail that goes through an "upscale" neighborhood in Topsfield.
There was a burglary adjacent to the rail trail today and the owner arrived home while the
crime was in progress. The burglar jumped out a second story window and fled. A large
Police search ensued and comments from the police and residents on TV5 implied that the
rail trail makes for "easy access" to the area. This argument is often used against the
construction of new rail trails. No doubt, the example of Topsfield will surface elsewhere.

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Re: Saugus Branch (RIP) -> Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand T

Post by MEC407 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:11 am

Reminds me of the "Amtrak will bring drugs to Maine" argument back in the late '90s and early 2000s.
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