by Catherine Cagle
Manager of Sustainable Transportation
Today I'm excited to let people know that the Patrick Administration has awarded $500,000 in Transportation Enhancements funding for final design of phase 2A of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.
Phase 2A of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail will extend approximately 4.8 miles from the end of Phase 1 BFRT in Westford, south through Westford, Carlisle and Acton. The towns of Westford, Carlisle and Acton completed the preliminary design to qualify for Transportation Enhancements funding for the final design; once that is completed and approved, Phase 2A will be ready for construction.
On August 20, 2009, residents and community groups celebrated the opening of Phase 1 of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (BFRT), a 6.8 mile shared-use path that connects Lowell, Chelmsford and Westford. As someone who bikes to work and recreationally I am always excited to see paths like this open — not only because they provide great opportunity for people to excercise but also because they make important connections between communities. Since the grand opening of Phase 1 use on the path has exploded and led to many rave reviews. We hope that many of these people are excited as we are that Phase 2A design will moving forward thanks to Transportation Enhancements funding.
In case you were wondering, the Transportation Enhancements program is a federal program that funds community-based projects with the goal of increasing travel choice and improving the cultural and environmental character of the transportation system. Eligible TE projects fall into 12 categories such as bicycle and pedestrian facilities, streetscape improvements, historic transportation facilities, cultural facilities, and environmental improvements for the transportation system. Transportation Enhancement funding supports important non-traditional and innovative transportation infrastructure projects that might not otherwise obtain funding. We haven't always done the best job awarded TE funding and we're currently working to improve the program to speed up investments in critical bike and pedestrian projects. For example, the Patrick Administration recently committed to increasing TE funding from $500,000 to $3.5M and formed a joint task force with highway officials to streamline project delivery and construction timelines.
You should know that we view pedestrian and bicycling improvements are an especially high priority as the Commonwealth seeks to expand healthy travel options and sustainable transportation.