The SNETT is 22 miles long and was acquired in 1984 by the Massachusetts Department of Management and then designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1994. This trail passes through six communities: Douglas, Uxbridge, Millville, Blackstone, Bellingham and Franklin. This trail is formerly known as the New York-New Haven- Hartford Railroad which ceased operation in 1964 and there is an additional 25 miles extending to Willimantic, Connecticut. That section is currently owned and managed by the Conn Department of Environmental Protection. The entire trail is a stone dust path and is presently undeveloped. This path would support a Class I bikeway and is the width of a double track rail bed for all non-electric transportation.
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BAY STATE TRAIL RIDERS ASSOCIATION UNDERTAKES BRIDGE PROJECT FOR THE STATE
Bay State Trail Riders Association (BSTRA), a Massachusetts nonprofit organization with just over 650 members serving the horse community, is undertaking a major bridge-building project as part of its 30th anniversary goals. The project itself is unique, because it involves replacing a bridge that spanned the old Route 146 (now Route 146A) in Uxbridge to connect the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT). What is so unusual is that the old bridge was removed during the reconstruction of Route 146 by the State approximately 15 years ago because it was too low to meet federal and state highway requirements and that it is a group of private residents planning to replace it. Although the State promised to rebuild the bridge and restore the historic trail at some point, it hasn't happened yet.
Since the SNETT is such an important resource to trail enthusiasts, BSTRA decided it was time to bridge the gap and restore the trail. Becky Kalagher, BSTRA's president, said "The bridge project is important for the town as well as the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor, since the bridge will enhance plans for the extension of the bike path." The Blackstone River Bikeway is a multistate project that will eventually connect Worcester to Providence, linking 1,000 acres of parkland. Ms. Kalagher called the SNETT the backbone of the 55-mile trail system that spans Massachusetts and Connecticut with side trails into Rhode Island. The trails essentially connect the Franklin State Forest to the Douglas State Forest, and then go all the way to Willimantic, Conn. Once the bridge is in place, it will provide continuous trail for a variety of users, including horseback riders, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, cross country skiers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Once constructed, the bridge will be donated by BSTRA to the State Highway Department.
Phase I of this project was completed in 2002 and consisted of the bridge design and engineering, at a total cost of $65,000 to BSTRA. Designed to accommodate horse traffic, the bridge will be 150 feet in length, 12 feet wide, and have 8 foot fencing. Engineered by Echo Bridge, Inc. of Elmira, NY, the design calls for an open weathering steel bridge with a treated timber deck; concrete abutments will sit on steel piles. Once constructed, it will resolve the last of the SNETT continuity problems identified by DEM and will also assist with meeting goals established for the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor.
BSTRA is currently raising money to move onto Phase II, the actual construction of the bridge. Phase II is estimated to cost BSTRA approximately $200,000. Approximately $40,000 needs to be raised by the organization in order to obtain the balance from available grants.
The first fundraising event was the 30th Anniversary Raffle. Lynn Paresky, BSTRA's Fundraising Chairman, reported a total of $10,784 was raised by members selling raffle tickets. Additional cash donations by business and personal sponsors have given BSTRA a total of $15,475 in the Bridge Fund as of the beginning of March. Twenty-one different prizes totaling more than $3,600 in value were awarded to the raffle winners drawn at BSTRA's Awards Banquet held February 1st at Pleasant Valley Country Club. "We were fortunate that all the prizes were donated by business sponsors, even the $1,150 saddle donated by Tucker Saddlery," said Ms. Paresky. "That way all donations and proceeds from ticket sales went 100% into the Bridge Fund."
Please show your support in the form of a cash donation. Send your check payable to BSTRA to Lynn Paresky, "Bridge the Gap" Fund Drive, 76 Northwest Main St., Douglas, MA 01516. Your contribution is tax-deductible and will be very much appreciated. Please make this investment in our trail system.
This year more than any recent years, our trail system will depend upon private residents and nonprofit organizations like BSTRA to keep them in good shape and to make improvements. With state budgetary cutbacks affecting DEM, our efforts become more critical to all trail users. It's up to all of us to join forces and ensure that our trail system remains intact and maintained for many years of enjoyment for all of us.
BSTRA is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year - 30 years of savings trails. And our work is more important now than ever before, especially when you consider that Massachusetts is losing such a staggering amount of open land each year -- 16,000 acres annually fall victim to development. That equates to 44 acres per day! BSTRA is actively working to preserve a trail network so there will be places left for us and future generations to enjoy our outdoor activities. We invite you to join forces with us and protect our trail system. So get involved by participating in one or more of these events. Giving a little can help make a big difference.
If you'd like to get information about becoming a BSTRA member, please contact Becky at (508) 476-7094 or email her at email@example.com. Or, if you would like to help us with putting on one of these events, please contact the person listed as contact for that particular event. We look forward to hearing from you.