Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Franklin & Bellingham Rail Trail Committee - marks the tunnel opening

The journey to upgrade the abandoned railroad path in Franklin & Bellingham began in December of 2008 when a representative of the Franklin Odd Fellows sat in on a meeting of the Grand Trunk Trailblazers in Thompson, CT and offered to be Franklin’s representative as the most easterly of (6) towns making up the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) from Franklin to the Connecticut border. 

The towns from East to West are Franklin, Bellingham, Blackstone, Millville, Uxbridge, Douglas.  The grassroots committee that was formed in January of 2009 was called the Franklin Citizens Rail Trail Committee, but that was later changed to the Franklin & Bellingham Rail Trail Committee (FBRTC) when Bellingham members joined the committee and we saw a need to expand.  

By December of 2009, the rail trail committee had secured an Opinion of Probable Cost from Pare Engineering in Lincoln, RI to improve the overgrown railroad right of way into a multipurpose walking and biking trail with a tunnel at the Prospect St. crossing.   For the next 11 years the committee advocated, fundraised and continually worked to obtain grants and petitioned our state government for funds to improve the SNETT.  

Both towns of Franklin & Bellingham have been active participants in the process adding parking lots and signage at road crossings.   The town of Bellingham made a significant contribution by burying a town waterline on the path and getting a significant portion of the Bellingham section completed to a finished grade.  The high point of the committee’s effort has been the funding and construction of the tunnel at Prospect St.  

State Rep. Jeff Roy and State Senators Karen Spilka and Richard Ross signed on to an initial Bond Bill that included the necessary funding for the trail and tunnel.  State Rep. Mike Soter of Bellingham, the Bellingham Planning Committee and Franklin Town Administrators Jeff Nutting and Jamie Hellen of Franklin have also been active participants.  

The committee is also grateful for the thousands of runners who have supported our 9 years of fundraiser road races and the numerous corporate donors who gave us much needed annual financial support and for the Town of Franklin for allowing us to use the Remington School for our Road Race site.  

The committee is also very grateful for all of the advice, support and “boots on the ground” manpower that we received over the years from the Department of Conservation (DCR) and we certainly understand that whatever success we’ve had as a grassroots committee would not have been possible without their full cooperation and support.

**  Written by Dave Labonte, original member of the FBRTC. 

For more about the FBRTC

In @TOFranklinMA The new SNETT tunnel was celebrated on Friday. @KarenSpilka @jeffroy @BeccaRauschMA   @Gannett       Look for upcoming  @laurenwhy_ @milforddaily story.  
Photo gallery here:  
Shared from Twitter:

Additional photos from Rep Jeff Roy on Facebook

photo from Rep Jeff Roy on Facebook
photo from Rep Jeff Roy on Facebook


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