Marblehead lands $140K grant to finance rail trail segment

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Late last week, Congressman Seth Moulton and the Essex National Heritage Area announced Marblehead will receive a piece of a recently awarded $1.2 million in federal funding to finance work related to the the town’s rail trail.

The 70-mile shared-use trail runs from New Hampshire to Boston, connecting 20 communities to “employment centers, neighborhoods, schools, parks, recreational facilities and natural areas” in Essex County.

“Marblehead is pleased to have received $140,000 for the design and intersection improvements and and the planned surface upgrade for the last segment of the Marblehead trail into Swampscott,” Marblehead Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer said. “The funds will be used for design and survey work on the critical segments of the Marblehead Rail Trail.”

The remaining allocation of the federal funds will cover costs associated with engineering, design, and development of unfinished sections of the Border-to-Boston Trail in Peabody, Boxford, Newbury and Swampscott.

The federal grant is the latest bit of good news for the town’s rail trail, said Marblehead Town Planner Becky Curran Cutting.

“We also got a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation just recently for the design and permitting for the Salem trail at Lafayette Street through the Lead Mills property,” she said. “Also while talking about the trail, work is beginning on the construction of the crossing improvements at Smith Street, Pleasant Street and West Shore Drive.

For two decades, the Essex National Heritage Area has been involved with the trail project alongside MassDOT, East Coast Greenway Alliance, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Coastal Trails Coalition and the National Park Service.

“It’s one of the region’s most significant and new outdoor recreational assets,” notes the Essex National Heritage Area. “It’s an important link in the 3,000 mile East Coast Greenway – which facilitates safe, off-road travel from Maine to Florida.”

The East Coast Greenway connects 15 state and 450 cities and towns, fostering “a safe walking and biking route through the United States’ most populated corridor.”

The Essex National Heritage Area said the Border to Boston project is “an ongoing effort and there are still road gaps between trail segments, so please use caution when planning excursions.”

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