The Newburyport Rail Trail

Entrance to Newburyport's Rail Trail--High Street
Entrance to Newburyport's Rail Trail--High Street

Sunday was one of those amazing, “this is why we live here,” kind of gorgeous, mild fall days. I had not checked on Newburyport’s Rail Trail for awhile, so I thought that I would go down to Market Street and see if I could walk down to the new bridge across Low Street, that was put in this past August.

The bridge over Low Street  headed toward the train station.
The bridge over Low Street headed toward the train station.

One of the questions that is often asked is, why is the city putting money towards a very expensive Rail Trail, when it could use the money for other things, in particular schools.

The answer to that, is that these kinds of projects have a completely different funding source, than, for example the Newburyport Schools do.

The Rail Trail from underneath the High Street over pass.
The Rail Trail from underneath the High Street over pass.
Route 1, which is right next to this part of the Rail Trail (one would never know it).
Route 1, which is right next to this part of the Rail Trail (one would never know it).

This is from the city’s website:

“Funding for the design of the Clipper City Rail Trail came primarily through grants from MHD (Massachusetts Highway Department) and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), as well as the Community Preservation Act (CPA). The City hired Stantec (formerly known as Vollmer Associates) to develop the design for the facility. The City also secured the commitment of $3 million in federal and state funding for construction of the trail as part of the regional Transportation Improvement Plan. The primary source of funding is the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program, which is designated specifically for projects that help reduce congestion and tailpipe emissions including by definition bicycle and pedestrian pathways. (This funding source cannot be used, for instance, for work on conventional roads or bridges, or schools and other general needs.) The reliance on federal funding requires that the MHD take charge of advertising, contracting, and managing the construction of the project once the design is completed. The City works closely with the MHD Resident Engineer to manage the contractor during the construction phase.”

From the Low Street bridge going up towards High Street.
From the Low Street bridge going up towards High Street.

These are some of the photos that I took. As you can see Newburyport’s Rail Trail is still under construction, but you can begin to get an idea just how remarkable an asset to the city that it will be.