Framingham Bruce Freeman Trail Update

Early design work is underway, but don’t expect trail construction anytime soon
Planning & Development

Sharon Machlis Gartenberg


June 6, 2024

The northern Framingham portion of the Bruce Freeman Trail could have part of its 10% conceptual design phase done this fall, but don’t expect to take your bike on the trail for a few more years yet.

At a meeting of the Framingham Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Committee tonight, engineering consultants BETA outlined the process involved in going from the city’s acquisition of the right of way through design and construction.

10% design will include things like evaluating existing bridges and culverts, environmental impacts, road crossings, and screening for abutters. A tentative schedule called for public outreach meetings this fall and next spring, and 25% design for Phase 1 done by July 2025.

When might the Framingham portion of the trail be usable for bicycling? The tentative response was “2028 at the earliest” for Phase 1, and “hopefully Phase 2 within a year or so of that. But that’s very much an estimate at this point,” according to Bill McGrath, principle in charge at BETA.

Audience members asked whether it might be possible for either the city or volunteers to clear the trail before that so it might be used at least for walking in parts before the planned 12-foot-wide asphalt path is built. That’s something the consultants might bring back to the city, BETA responded.

Phase 1 is from Frost Street north to the Sudbury town line (Eaton Road West); Phase 2 is from Frost Street to the terminus around Rte. 9. The state wanted the project split in two to be more manageable given its length.

The city is responsible for design of the trail, but construction will be funded by MassDOT.

Another key issue brought up during audience questioning is parking. One attendee said many Bruce Freeman Trail users are not local, but drive to the trail with their bikes and will need a place to park. There’s concern that out-of-town bike users entering in Nobscot might inundate the McAuliffe Library parking lot unless alternative parking is available. One idea: Look at the Hemenway School parcel, since that school will likely be decommissioned once a new elementary school is built in south Framingham.

However, an audience member mentioned that at the northern terminus of the trail Update: A reader pointed out this was unlikely, and in reviewing the transcript again, I believe the speaker may have been referring to another trail. Sorry, it was difficult to hear, a 200-car parking lot quickly became inadequate and additional parking had to be found. Framingham will eventually be the southern trail terminus around Rte 9 and Pleasant Street, and there needs to be consideration for parking for potentially a thousand or more cars on weekends, that attendee argued. BETA said that parking will be part of the trail design.

BETA has worked on a number of area projects including Natick’s portion of the Cochituate Rail Trail.

Map of the Framingham portion of the Freeman trail showing limits from Rte 9 to Sudbury, 2 bridges and 5 road crossings

Source: BETA Group

Note: All of the above news story was written 100% by me. I’d like to watch the rest of the Celtics game tonight, though, :-) so I asked Claude – a generative AI chatbot from Anthropic similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT – to sum up all key points of the meeting from the Zoom transcript.

Claude’s summary of key takeaways from the meeting:

Residents raised thoughtful questions about flooding issues at specific culvert locations, design of the Grove Street bridge replacement to incorporate historical elements, and the possibility of allowing volunteers to help clear the trail alignment prior to construction. The BETA Group representatives welcomed the input and will work with the city to consider the suggestions.

The Advisory Committee and meeting attendees expressed excitement about moving this important regional trail connection forward. More details will be shared as the design progresses, with the first public informational meeting anticipated for November 2024 once the conceptual plans are further developed.

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