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NATICK

Natick wins state approval to build rail trail

Natick’s plan to build its segment of the Cochituate Rail Trail recently cleared a major remaining hurdle when the state Department of Transportation approved the project to be constructed this year.

Provided federal officials certify the town has completed design and secured needed rights-of-way, the state will move forward with advertising for construction bids in mid-September, according to Jamie Errickson, Natick’s director of community and economic development.

The Natick rail trail section had been on the state’s multi-year transportation project list for this region, but the transportation department’s action moves it to actual construction.

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“This is going to be a fantastic development for the town that will connect thousands of existing and soon-to-be-created jobs, several neighborhoods in Natick Center, Natick Mall, and entertainment sites,” Errickson said. “So it’s very exciting to have this come to fruition.”

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The overall trail when completed will extend just over four miles along a former freight rail bed from Natick Center to Framingham’s Saxonville neighborhood. The Framingham section of the 12-foot wide path has been completed.

Natick purchased its approximately two-mile segment in 2016 with $6 million authorized by Town Meeting.

Since then, Natick designed and acquired rights of way for its trail segment, covering much of the $1.2 million cost with payments from private developers to mitigate their project impacts.

The estimated $12 million to $14 million in construction costs will be funded entirely with federal and state dollars.

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In addition to paving the trail, the project’s major features include rebuilding an existing trestle bridge over Route 9 and constructing a new bridge over Route 30. Construction could start as early as spring 2019 and should take about two years.

John Laidler can be reached at john.laidler@globe.com.