Newton Mayor Setti D. Warren and MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey signed a 99-year lease agreement that will clear the way for the conversion of an abandoned railroad into a multi-use path in the Upper Falls village.
The route will follow a one-mile stretch of abandoned railroad that was formerly the Needham Secondary Branch Line. The path will start at the Charles River and extend northeasterly, running parallel to Needham Street.
“This project is all about working collaboratively, thinking creatively, and finding new ways to meet the growing demand for more transportation choices,” said Secretary Davey. “Through Mayor Warren’s leadership, this blighted property will be put to active use, which will promote healthy and sustainable living.”
In the years since the line was abandoned, the land has become overgrown and has not served an active transportation purpose. Today, by signing the lease, the city of Newton is able to bring its contractor, Iron Horse Preservation Society, on board to begin the work.
“It is with great enthusiasm that we partner with the MBTA, the non-profit, Iron Horse, and the Community of Upper Falls in order to re-purpose this mile of abandoned rail line and construct a pedestrian pathway; removing a barrier and instead creating a linkage between our commercial district and residential area that will improve the quality of life for residents and employees alike,” said Mayor Warren.
The city of Newton’s contractor will dispose of the ties and remove the rail, which will be sold for scrap; the proceeds will go toward the installation of a rolled stone path. The entire process to convert the abandoned rail line will be done at zero cost to the city of Newton and the MBTA.
The work, which is weather dependent, will begin immediately and is expected to be complete by the end of the year.