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Letter to the Editor: UCTC should re-evaluate trail proposal

by | Jan 27, 2022 | Letter to Editor

The Upper Charles Trail Committee (UCTC) presented its proposed route in December and has received significant public feedback appreciative of the efforts and also challenging segments 1 to 6 for safety concerns and more. The paved trail would start on Route 85 where Milford’s trail ends, cross that busy road three times, wind through school campuses, then join Center Trail. The Trails Club presented a stone dust alternative to those segments. It addresses safety, having only one bridged (safer) crossing of Route 85, plus is more pleasant to use while also less expensive and faster to complete. UCTC heard the proposed alternative and invited public input, which is most welcome!

Rather than proceed with next steps to move the original proposal forward, UCTC should pause now, further investigate the alternative and communicate the findings of the advantages and disadvantages of each option. If the current proposal proceeds without that, UCTC jeopardizes both public support and a successful result.

At this point, the advantages UCTC sees in segments 1 to 6 are not apparent. UCTC’s responses so far included a reference to vision. I’d welcome UCTC articulating that vision; its website’s mission reports “a trail for recreational use.” So why a paved route more suitable for commuting, a use that doesn’t seem practical there? UCTC also mentioned three easements needed for the alternative route but didn’t compare that to 15 easements needed for the proposed route. UCTC welcomed the Trails Club route as a spur, an addition rather than an alternative to segments 1 to 6; unfortunately the issues with the original still stand.

My family uses many area trails, mainly for recreational walking and biking. We would likely avoid using the proposed trail in segments 1 to 6, just as we now often avoid the Milford trail segment that crosses Interstate 495 ramps; the noise, exhaust smell and danger are unappealing. We would gladly use the Trails Club’s route, which doesn’t have such issues and would be wooded, hence cooler and more scenic, with a surface that’s easier on the bones and the wallet, and presenting less disruptive construction.

Pausing now, reevaluating and potentially changing course could be frustrating and disappointing to the UCTC after working long and hard on this, but better to do so now than face it later if the proposal is rejected by voters. I sincerely appreciate UCTC’s willingness to reconsider their plan.

— Linda Chuss, Hopkinton

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