The MBTA Board of Directors this week voted to authorize 99-year leases with Newton and the towns of Medfield, Dover, and Needham for portions of an abandoned railroad right-of-way for use as a rail trail, according to spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
The combined leases represent approximately 9.1miles of a new trail development, known as the Bay Colony Rail Trail.
The communities will be responsible for all maintenance and liability.
While the lease is at no cost to the municipality, the MBTA reserves the right to enter into licenses or leases with utility and telecommunication companies to generate non-fare revenue.
The lease contains a reversion clause which allows the MBTA to take back the property at no cost, should it be needed for another transportation purpose.
This trail would also provide a safe and convenient link to the MBTA’s Needham Junction commuter rail station, backers say.
Officials in Dover, Medfield, Needham, and Newton all sent letters requesting to lease unused railroad right of way from the MBTA. It is one of several potential bike trails and paths that local bicycling advocates are pushing.
“To date, the MBTA has entered into leases with thirty other municipalities, which has resulted in over 100 miles of new or planned trails," MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis said in a statement.
"These lease agreements promote the Commonwealth’s GreenDOT policy of fostering healthy transportation choices, provide links to transit, and connect residential areas with schools and employments centers.”
Update: Late Friday, the Bay Colony Rail Trail Association issued this statement:
"The Bay Colony Rail Trail Association has been working with all three towns along the abandoned corridor between Needham and Medfield, all of whom have expressed interest in learning more about the possibility of converting that rail road line into a share use recreational path. The MBTA approval to allow leasing of the corridor is an important step in that process, and the BCRTA is excited to move one step closer to making the trail a reality. However, each town must still decide whether entering into the lease is the right decision: though the MBTA has approved, the towns each still need to go through their own approval process."