The Watertown Branch Railroad was a branch loop of the Fitchburg Railroad that was meant to serve the town of Watertown and the City of Waltham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, as an independent short line railroad; it also serviced the Watertown Arsenal. The line has been formally abandoned and portions are being converted into a rail trail, the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway. A section from School Street to Arlington Street in Watertown has been completed. A small portion in Waltham has been converted into a park called Chemistry Station Park after the railroad station once located there. Construction of an extension to Fresh Pond Reservation in Cambridge began in the summer of 2018 and is expected to be completed in June 2020.
The Fitchburg Railroad is a former railroad company, which built a railroad line across northern Massachusetts, United States, leading to and through the Hoosac Tunnel. The Fitchburg was leased to the Boston and Maine Railroad in 1900. The main line from Boston to Fitchburg is now operated as the MBTA Fitchburg Line; Pan Am Railways runs freight service on some other portions.
Watertown is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and is part of the Greater Boston area. The population was 31,915 in the 2010 census. Its neighborhoods include Bemis, Coolidge Square, East Watertown, Watertown Square, and the West End. It is one of thirteen Massachusetts municipalities that retain the title of “town” while functioning under state law as cities.
Waltham is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, and was an early center for the labor movement as well as a major contributor to the American Industrial Revolution. The original home of the Boston Manufacturing Company, the city was a prototype for 19th century industrial city planning, spawning what became known as the Waltham-Lowell system of labor and production. The city is now a center for research and higher education, home to Brandeis University and Bentley University. The population was 60,636 at the census in 2010.
The railroad was chartered in 1846 and a second company, the Waltham and Watertown Railroad, was chartered to extend the line to the neighborhood just southeast of downtown Waltham, Massachusetts. In order to keep it out of the hands of its rivals, the Fitchburg took control of both companies before any track was laid and merged them into the Watertown Branch.
Construction began from West Cambridgein 1847 and was completed to Bemis two years later. In the Fresh Pond area it paralleled the existing Charlestown Branch Railroad which was used to haul ice. By 1851 it reached the Fitchburg's main line at the downtown Waltham station and the branch served as the main passenger line between Boston and Waltham. It was one of the few branch lines to be double tracked, as the line saw quite heavy traffic, especially in the 1880s and 1890s. The Boston and Maine Railroad took over the Fitchburg in 1900.
Fresh Pond is a reservoir and park in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Prior to the Pond's use exclusively as a reservoir, its ice had been harvested by Boston's "Ice King", Frederic Tudor, and others, for shipment to North American cities and to tropical areas around the world.
Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States, as well as the 21st most populous city in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 694,583 in 2018, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth most populous in the United States.
Competition from streetcars and automobiles cut heavily into inner-suburb passenger traffic. Minor stations were closed, including East Watertown in 1932.Passenger service on the line ended in 1938 and the second track was removed by early 1940. The middle section of the line from the Waltham/Watertown line through Watertown Square to East Watertown was abandoned in 1960. This split the branch line in two, but traffic continued on both sides through the remainder of the 20th century. In 1991, about a half mile of track was abandoned on the west side of the line at Bemis, and the remainder of the line back to Waltham was abandoned in 2000.
On October 5, 2011, the Surface Transportation Board agreed to allow Pan Am Railways to abandon the final active 1.72 miles of the Watertown Branch from Newly Weds Foods in Watertown to the branch's junction with the Fitchburg Line between Sherman Street and Alewife in Cambridge. No freight had been carried for at least two years.As of May 2013, all but the approximately half-mile portion between Concord Avenue and the Fitchburg Line was in public hands.
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) of the United States is a federal, bipartisan, independent adjudicatory board. The STB was established in 1996 to assume some of the regulatory functions that had been administered by the Interstate Commerce Commission when the ICC was abolished. Other ICC regulatory functions were either eliminated or transferred to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics within DOT.
Pan Am Railways, Inc. (PAR), known before March 2006 as Guilford Rail System, is an American holding company that owns and operates Class II regional railroads covering northern New England from Mattawamkeag, Maine, to Rotterdam Junction, New York. The primary subsidiaries of Pan Am Railways are Boston and Maine Corporation, Maine Central Railroad Company, Portland Terminal Company, and Springfield Terminal Railway Company.
The Fitchburg Line is a branch of the MBTA Commuter Rail system which runs from Boston's North Station to Wachusett station in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The line is along the tracks of the former Fitchburg Railroad, which was built across northern Massachusetts, United States, in the 1840s. It is one of the MBTA's more scenic commuter rail lines, passing by Walden Pond between Lincoln and Concord. Weekend service includes a specially equipped seasonal "ski train" to Wachusett Mountain during the winter.
State and local 3 miles per hour (4.8 km/h) could derail.collaboration has been ongoing for transformation of the rail corridor into a rail trail, once known as the Charles River/Alewife Connector, now called the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway. The condition of the tracks at that time was deemed so poor that trains traveling at a mere
A rail trail is the conversion of a disused railway track into a multi-use path, typically for walking, cycling and sometimes horse riding and snowmobiling. The characteristics of abandoned railways—flat, long, frequently running through historical areas—are appealing for various developments. The term sometimes also covers trails running alongside working railways; these are called "rails with trails". Some shared trails are segregated, with the segregation achieved with or without separation. Many rail trails are long-distance trails.
In 1999, the Executive Office of Transportation purchased segments of the right-of-way from Guilford Transportation.This trail segment was later transferred administratively to the MDC, currently known as the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
On the east side of the branch, service was only to one customer, Newly Weds Foods, until service ended in 2007.The entire branch was then abandoned and out of service. Litter and downed trees were prevalent on the Fresh Pond–Watertown portion of the track before path construction began.
On May 22, 2013 the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the City of Cambridge announced their acquisition of major portions of the remaining abandoned right-of-way from the railroad for $1.3 million plus an additional, unspecified amount from Cambridge, allowing completion of the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway. The DCR acquired the portion south of Huron Avenue, while the City of Cambridge now owns the right-of-way north to Concord Avenue.
In 2015, the DCR obtained $180,000 to fund design of the remaining greenway section, half from private donations. Public meetings were held on June 9 and November 30, the latter to present a 25% design for the greenway.A 75% design presentation was held on June 2, 2016. Funding of $3.6 million was approved by the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in June 2017, with construction projected to start in Fall 2017 or Spring 2018.
The project was advertised for bids in September 2017 and bids were opened in March 2018. As of June, final design was complete. Construction started in late summer.The estimated cost is $3.182 million. As of mid-August 2018, the right-of-way had been cleared of most accumulated overgrowth and surveying work had begun. As of mid-October, track had been largely removed and several dozen trees with diameter greater than 6 inches were being removed due to poor health, safety concerns or construction conflicts. A formal Ground Breaking Event was held on December 5.
The path construction process has moved faster in Watertown than in Cambridge.
The line begins in North Cambridge west of the Sherman Street at-grade crossing. The branch line proceeds west, and then south, where it has at-grade crossings at New Street, Concord Avenue, and the entrance road to the Walter J. Sullivan Water Treatment Facility at the Fresh Pond reservoir. From there, the line proceeds to several underpasses, namely one below a second road into the Fresh Pond reservation, one at Huron Avenue, and one at Mount Auburn Street, where it then crosses the town boundary of Watertown.
The line crosses Cottage Street at grade and Grove Street below grade. Further at-grade crossings were at School Street and at Mount Auburn Street just outside Watertown Square.
The western portion of the branch continued past the Town Hall area, then headed southwest toward Main and Pleasant Streets (near Bacon and Howard Streets) and across Bridge Street in the Bemis Neighborhood of Watertown. Although much of the area has been built over, from there the line ran adjacent to Pleasant Street through what are now mainly parking lot areas, through the Quincy Cold Storage property (now Repton Place) on Pleasant Street, through the former Raytheon property in Waltham, and across River Street near Willow Street, before crossing the Charles River near the Bleachery Dam.The trestle for that crossing, approximately 140 years old, was dismantled and removed in August 2016. The line then crossed Calvary Street, then Newton Street, and proceeded across Pine Street before heading northwest, where it re-crossed the Charles, parallel to Elm Street. It then reached the Central Square area, and looped back into the Fitchburg Railroad main line.
Phase I of the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway connects School Street to Arlington Street, in Watertown, with a branch to the Arsenal Mall. Phase II will connect with Phase I at Arlington Street and continue just past the Walter J. Sullivan Water Treatment Facility where it will connect with the existing Fresh Pond Trail.Planned renovations at the Arsenal Mall are expected to include a connection to the Charles River Bike Path. A several-block completed section of the proposed Watertown Community Path proceeds west along Arsenal street from School Street.
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Belmont is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. It is a western suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, United States; and is part of the greater Boston metropolitan area. Its population was 26,330 as of July 1, 2018.
Alewife is an intermodal transit station in Cambridge, Massachusetts that is the northern terminus of the MBTA's Red Line subway system. It is also a hub for several MBTA Bus lines. Alewife station is located in the North Cambridge neighborhood, adjacent to the interchange between Alewife Brook Parkway and the Massachusetts Route 2 freeway, with ramps providing direct access to and from the expressway portion of Route 2. Its facilities include a multi-level parking garage with 2,733 spaces, three secured bicycle cages, a busway with an enclosed waiting room for bus passengers, and connections to the Minuteman Bikeway, Cambridge Linear Park, and the Fitchburg Cutoff Path.
Porter is a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) transit station in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It serves the Red Line rapid transit line, the MBTA Commuter Rail Fitchburg Line, and several MBTA Bus lines. Located at Porter Square at the intersection of Massachusetts and Somerville Avenues, the station provides rapid transit access to northern Cambridge and the western portions of Somerville. Porter is 14 minutes from Park Street on the Red Line, and about 10 minutes from North Station on commuter rail trains. Several local MBTA Bus routes also stop at the station.
The Minuteman Bikeway is a 10-mile (16-kilometre) paved multi-use rail trail located in the Greater Boston area of Massachusetts. It runs from Bedford to Alewife station, at the northern end of the Red Line in Cambridge, passing through the towns of Lexington and Arlington along the way. Also along the route are several notable regional sites, including Alewife Brook Reservation, Spy Pond, "Arlington’s Great Meadows", the Battle Green in Lexington, and Hanscom Air Force Base.
The Somerville Community Path is a paved mixed-use path in Somerville, Massachusetts, running 0.8 mile (1.3 km) from the Alewife Linear Park border to Lowell Street via Davis Square.
The Grand Junction Railroad is an 8.55-mile (13.76 km) long railroad in the Boston, Massachusetts, area, connecting the railroads heading west and north from Boston. Most of it is still in use, carrying scrap either inbound or outbound to the Schnitzer scrap yard on the Everett waterfront or freight to the Chelsea Produce Market, and non-revenue transfers of Amtrak and MBTA passenger equipment between the lines terminating at North Station and South Station. The line is also notable for its railroad bridge over the Charles River that passes under the Boston University Bridge between Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is a state agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, situated in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. It is best known for its parks and parkways. As of December 9, 2015, the Commissioner of the DCR is Leo Roy. The DCR's mission is "To protect, promote and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural and recreational resources for the well-being of all." The agency is the largest landowner in Massachusetts.
Alewife Brook Reservation is a Massachusetts state park and urban wild located in Cambridge, Arlington, and Somerville. The park is managed by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and was established in 1900. It is named for Alewife Brook, which was also historically known as Menotomy River, a tributary of the Mystic River.
The Alewife Linear Park is a mixed-use path, about 1.3 miles (2.0 km) long, running through Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts, United States, and connecting the Minuteman Bikeway and the Fitchburg Cutoff Path near Alewife with the Somerville Community Path at Davis Square. The path is used for bicycling, walking, jogging, and inline skating. It runs through a long, narrow park that was built above the MBTA Red Line subway when it was extended from Davis Square to Alewife. It was established by the MBTA in 1985, and is maintained by the cities of Cambridge and Somerville.
The Fitchburg Cutoff Path is a short multi-use rail trail located in suburban Boston, Massachusetts.
The Lexington and West Cambridge Railroad was a railroad company chartered in 1845 and opened in 1846, that operated in eastern Massachusetts, U.S.A. It and its successors provided passenger service until 1977 and freight service until 1980 or early 1981.
Alewife Brook Parkway is a short parkway in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It begins at Fresh Pond in Cambridge, and heads north on the east bank of Alewife Brook, crossing into West Somerville and ending at the Mystic River on the Medford town line, where it becomes Mystic Valley Parkway. The entire length of Alewife Brook Parkway is designated as part of Massachusetts Route 16 (Route 16), while the southernmost sections are also designated as part of Route 2 and U.S. Route 3 (US 3). It is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation responsible for bridge maintenance.
Waltham is an MBTA Commuter Rail station in Waltham, Massachusetts. It serves the Fitchburg Line. It is located in downtown Waltham adjacent to Central Square. With 610 inbound boardings on an average weekday, it has the second highest ridership on the line, behind South Acton station.
The Charles River Bike Path is a mixed-use path in the Boston, Massachusetts area. It is named after the cardiologist Paul Dudley White, a prominent advocate of preventive medicine. His research led him to proclaim frequently "I'd like to put everybody on bicycles." In 1955 White served as president Eisenhower's cardiologist and prescribed his famous patient bicycle therapy after his 1955 heart attack.
Fresh Pond Parkway is an historic park and parkway, found in the westernmost neighborhoods of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The parkway was built in 1899 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
Cambridge Highlands also known as "Area 12", is a neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts bounded by the railroad tracks on the north and east, the Belmont town line on the west, and Fresh Pond on the south. In 2005 it had a population of 673 residents living in 281 households, and the average household income was $56,500.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority operates subway, bus, commuter rail, and ferry service in the Greater Boston region. Boston has some of the highest rates of non-motorized commuting in the United States, including high bicycle usage. The MBTA offers certain provisions for riders wishing to make part of their trips by bicycle. The agency allows bicycles to be carried on all fixed-route services except the Green Line and the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line light rail lines, although they are restricted on the commuter rail and heavy rail subway services at peak hours. Bicycle storage areas are offered at many stations, with "Pedal and Park" locking bicycle cages at certain high-usage stations.
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