By DAVID LISCIO
Stephen Winslow of Malden has been carrying the torch for the Bike to the Sea initiative for more than 20 years. He has seen some communities rally and succeed in building nearly cost-free fitness trails while others struggled with the concept and the funding.
“Danvers had the good fortune of building the first trail in the area,” he said, noting the town was able to take advantage of state and federal grants, mile-by-mile sponsors, and an offering by the nonprofit Iron Horse Preservation Society.
The 4.3-mile Danvers trail cost $50,000 per mile. The Iron Horse Preservation Society trimmed the expense by removing the steel rails and wooden ties in return for the salvage rights.
“At the time, the price of steel was very high,” the Malden attorney explained. “Iron Horse was selling the rails to a facility in Pennsylvania. Once the price of steel went down and the cost of getting rid of the railroad ties went up, it was no longer a feasible option.”
The state and federal grants paid for trail grading and resurfacing.
Winslow noted the Danvers trail is popular with bicyclists, pedestrians, joggers and families. It has become a vital part of the community.
“The Danvers trail is beloved. It’s hard to think anybody would say anything bad about it,” he said.
Winslow said Revere’s two-mile bike trail was built for $150,000 per mile.
The Danvers Rail Trail links schools, parks, residential areas, the city’s downtown business district and other trails in the neighboring communities of Peabody, Wenham and Topsfield. It was constructed along what was once part of the historic Boston & Maine railroad connecting Danvers to Newburyport. Since its inception, the trail has been managed and maintained by a group of volunteers. See www.Danversrailtrail.org.
In Peabody, the 8.1-mile Independence Greenway stretches from the North Shore Mall on Route 128 to Russell Street at the Ipswich River.
Saugus town officials in 2012 gave the go-ahead for a bicycle and pedestrian path along a former rail corridor. As a way of cutting costs and eliminating the need to raise funds for construction and maintenance, the town partnered with the Iron Horse Preservation Society.
The organization assumed responsibility for removing the iron rails along the 2.6-mile track and grading the trail, in return for permission to sell the scrap iron.
Bike to the Sea has been lobbying since 1993 to create what it calls the Northern Strand Trail, which would take bicyclists and pedestrians from the Malden/Everett area to the beaches in Revere, Lynn and Nahant.
The organization has made significant strides. The trail can be accessed where Lynn and Wesley streets converge in Malden near the Revere city line. Another access point is located where Salem and Franklin streets meet in Revere, near the Saugus town line.
List of bicycle and pedestrian trails in Massachusetts.
Bike to the Sea