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MBTA Lexington Branch Railroad Right-of-Way Study, 1985

The Lexington Branch is an 11-mile railroad corridor between the Fitchburg Division Main Line in West Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the terminus in Bedford via the towns of Arlington and Lexington. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) acquired the Lexington Branch from the Boston & Maine Railroad in late 1976. The last passenger train operated over the line on January 10, 1977; and the final freight train operated in January 1981. Around this time, the Branch was embargoed to allow construction of the MBTA's Alewife Red Line Station in West Cambridge.

In the mid-1980s, the MBTA engaged Vollmer Associates as a consultant to study options for reuse of this 11-mile railroad corridor. The result was the MBTA's Lexington Branch Right-of-Way Study, which is presented below for educational and research purposes. It provides interesting insights into the history of the Branch and how the Minuteman Bikeway came to exist.

Please note that the text was derived by scanning a photocopy of the report and then using optical character recognition (OCR) software to generate the HTML text. Although efforts were made to correct errors and adjust formatting for display on the Web, please be aware that this version is not intended to be a complete substitute for the original paper document. Some pages of the report are not currently presented here.


M.B.T.A. Lexington Branch Railroad Right-of-Way Study

Lexington Branch tracks removed 1992

For:  The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

By:  Vollmer Associates

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary
II. Background - Northwest Corridor
III. Lexington Branch Right-of-Way
IV. Screening of Potential Uses
V. Evaluation of Feasible Uses
VI. Conceptual Design
VII. Community Participation
  "The preparation of this report has been financed in part through a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Urban Mass Transportation Administration, under the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, as amended."
  Grant Number MA 299001, Project No. X2TS36 (PD-036)


The purpose of the Lexington Branch Study is to assess potential uses for the Lexington Railroad Right-of-Way (ROW) Branch from Alewife Station in Cambridge through Arlington and Lexington to Bedford Center.


In 1976, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) purchased the Lexington Branch along with other properties and equipment from the then-bankrupt Boston and Maine Railroad (B&M). In 1978 1977, as a result of deteriorated track, the two train per day commuter rail operations on this line were discontinued.

To accommodate construction of the Red Line project in the Alewife Station area, the MBTA and B&M sought discontinuance of rail freight operations over the Lexington Branch. In 1980 1981, commuter rail and rail freight services were suspended along the Lexington Branch ROW to enable construction of the Red Line extension at Alewife. A bankruptcy court order permitting the temporary discontinuance of rail service provided that upon completion of the Red Line work, railroad tracks and signals disturbed by construction were to be replaced so that the corridor would again become available for freight use. In 1983, the Court also allowed the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) to proceed with the Millbrook Valley Relief Sewer project which impacted the Lexington Branch ROW. The MDC's sewer project is also subject to the same track restoration provisions which apply to the MBTA.

The ongoing Red Line extension to Alewife and the Millbrook Valley Relief Sewer project are scheduled to be completed in 1985-1986. At that time, the MBTA and MDC will be required to restore the Lexington Branch ROW in accordance with the U.S. District court order.


The Lexington Branch ROW is an irreplaceable resource which was acquired by the MBTA to assure its availability for transportation purposes.

Among the potential long range uses as reflected in the State's Program for Mass Transportation is an extension of the Red Line to Route 128. Although the extension is not now being actively considered, a constraint on any near term improvement option is that it not preclude the Red Line extension or other potential future transportation uses.

The following potential uses of the ROW were identified from past studies, meetings with State and local officials and community input from public meetings held in area towns.

These options were then evaluated based upon the transportation market cost and community and environmental impacts. During the initial screening process, commuter rail and light rail were found to be infeasible based upon high capital and operating costs weighted against low anticipated patronage levels. The analysis is summarized on the included table. The linear park option was dropped from further consideration due to its non-transportation function. Conversion of the ROW into a park would be inconsistent with long range plans for the corridor.

The "no action" alternative implies that the ROW would be left as is. In the case of the Lexington Branch corridor, however, the MBTA and MDC would have to comply with a standing court order and replace all ties, tracks, and structures removed for their construction projects, at an anticipated cost in excess of $5.4 million. This investment would not address the remainder of the ROW. As a result, the completion of this work the corridor would still be left idle and deteriorate further. This option would provide no benefit to the Commonwealth or the community nor would it be an effective means of preserving the ROW for long term transportation needs.

The exclusive busway, freight rail service and Minuteman commuter busway were found to have sufficient benefits to warrant further analysis.

Exclusive Busway

Although some adverse environmental impacts would be encountered from buses traveling along the ROW, there appeared to be a number of positive benefits provided by this alternative. Overall, it offers a service improvement at relatively low cost. A busway would be simple to construct and would provide a system with a capital cost commensurate with anticipated benefits.

Further analysis of this concept, however, indicated the following drawbacks.

The railroad corridor, by virtue of the its isolation from local arterial streets, would be inaccessible for travelers presently utilizing the Massachusetts Avenue bus service.

Any passenger time savings resulting from increased bus speeds from the use of an exclusive roadway would be lost due to longer waiting times required. Less frequent bus service and longer waiting times would result from the need to split the rider market between Massachusetts Avenue and the busway.

A two-lane busway would require land taking in Arlington and Lexington Centers.

With service reductions on Massachusetts Avenue offsetting service improvements to busway users and the lack of local support, the busway was considered infeasible at this time.

Rail Freight Service

The resumption of rail freight service on the Lexington Branch would result in reestablishing the historical function provided by the corridor. The study findings, however, indicate a limited demand for freight service along this line with a potential maximum demand of 15-19 freight cars per week and minimum demand projected at 6-8 cars or less. The cost to restore a single-track rail freight service over the 10.2 mile ROW is estimated at approximately $20 million.

In addition, restoration of the freight line would have a disruptive effect and/or cost impact on a number of facilities in the Alewife area including the new Alewife station, the Thorndike/Magnolia field complex and the MDC Millbrook Valley Relief Sewer line.

While the study findings indicate that the market is insufficient to warrant restoration of freight service at this time, potential future rail freight service demand, either at Hanscom Field or elsewhere in the corridor, make it desirable to preserve the option for rail freight service resumption at a future date should the economics of such service become more attractive.

Minuteman Commuter Bikeway

The concept of a Minuteman Bikeway involves the construction of an 11-mile-long commuter bikeway, 12 feet in width, to standards similar to those used in roadway construction. The ROW could be leased by the three abutting towns from the MBTA. The construction cost is estimated at approximately $1,800,000 (1980 dollars). Previous studies estimate that as many as 6,000 riders per day would use the bikeway. The use of the corridor as a bikeway does not appear to pose any major physical impacts nor negative environmental impacts. There is some concern among abutters that development of the bikeway would expose their properties to increased noise and potential vandalism. Because the bikeway would be a transportation use, it would not preclude the long term transportation function of the ROW.

Options for Joint Use

The review of potential alternatives for interim use of the Lexington Branch ROW has identified only two uses that meet the various screening criteria. These are continued use of the ROW for rail feight service, as mandated by court order, and the development of the proposed Minuteman Bikeway. To accommodate both options, the potential for joint use of the ROW has been investigated.

Analysis of the ROW indicates that for most of the ROW, there is sufficient space to accommodate both a bikeway and single-track rail service. With appropriate safety fencing, landscaping and other design treatments, combined with the likely infrequent number of rail trips to be made, the two uses would be compatible.

Under the general concept of joint use, there are several alternative development scenarios that have varying design and cost consequences.

Alternative A

The rail tracks could be restored for the full length and the bikeway could be constructed on the north side of the Lexington Branch ROW. This would require filling and grading along approximately 20% of the ROW. In addition, new and independent bridge structures for most of the existing road and stream crossings would be required. Also, a chain link fence for safety would be required the length of the ROW. This alternative could increase the cost of the bikeway by 50-60% over previous estimates to $2.8 million.

A third approach is a hybrid bikeway alignment where the bikeway would be constructed on its own alignment. The cost increment for such construction (over and above the cost for construction in the rail alignment) is small or zero. This would typically be in open, level sections of the ROW. In other sections of the ROW, where extensive grading or earthwork would be required, and particularly at bridges (road and stream crossings) and underpasses, the bikeway would use the rail alignment, as envisioned in the MAPC proposal. As long as there is no rail service, no fence would be required.

Alternative B

Under this scenario, the rail freight line would only be retained on the inner portion of the ROW, the four mile segment from Alewife to E.W. Larson's, the last rail freight user, in Arlington. For this portion of the ROW, the freight line and bikeway would share the ROW. For the outer portion of the alignment, beyond Larson's, the bikeway would be the sole use of the ROW. Total cost for a bikeway constructed under this scenario would be approximately $2,450,000.

Alternative C

This arrangement would minimize the incremental cost of bikeway construction. It would preserve the availability of the freight alignment for most of its length. The restoration and use of existing bridges and underpasses for the bikeway would also guarantee their upkeep.


The review of all the potential options for interim use of the Lexington Branch Right-of-Way (ROW) has indicated that only two of the uses are compatible with the long range transportation goals for this corridor. These options are a commuter bikeway and a single track rail line.

The final phase of the study also found that two acceptable alternatives could co-exist for the most part within the existing ROW. Section V of the report examines this joint use and offers three possible options for a commuter bikeway/rail facility.

Whi1e preserving the Lexington Branch ROW for future mass transportation use, the bikeway option will provide improved commuter access to the Alewife MBTA Station and the commercial centers of Cambridge and Boston. The bikeway will also provide improved access to town centers, schools and historic sites in Arlington, Bedford and Lexington.

Although utilized until recently for both commuter and freight rail service, the study findings indicate that the market for these services is insufficient to support the cost of restoring rail service at this time. However, since market conditions could change in the future, it is desirable to maintain the option of restoring single track rail service at a future date.

Based on the goals and constraints established at the outset of this study and the facts as we have them, the study team recommends that the Commonwealth allow the construction of the Minuteman Bikeway within the Lexington Branch ROW. The location of this facility should be established so that it would be feasible to restore rail service at a future date.

It is also recommended that conceptual design plans and guidelines for the proposed joint rail/bikeway be established by the Authority in order to preserve the long term transportations options for the ROW and guide the Massachusetts Department of Public Works and the Towns in carrying out detailed design of the bikeway.

Alternative Uses Analysis

II. Background - Northwest Corridor

This section of the report consists of a summary of the major milestones in transportation planning for and the development of the Northwest Corridor of Greater Boston, whose spine is the Lexington Branch Right-of-Way (ROW). See Exhibit No. 1. The summary begins with the Boston Transportation Planning Review of 1973, which was the initial reassessment of the Commonwealth's previously highway-oriented transportation policy, and the beginning of an effort, still continuing, to balance transportation improvements among a variety of modes. The numerous studies which followed the BTPR further defined transportation policy for the Corridor. Other milestones in the recent history of the corridor include the various agreements and court orders relative to the use and ownership of the ROW, and the Memorandum of Understanding between the MBTA and the Town of Arlington governing the use of Town land as a staging area for the construction of the Alewife Tail Track Tunnel. Taken together, these studies, agreements, and legal documents provide the context of policy and constraints for the current study of interim uses for the Lexington ROW.

1. Boston Transportation Planning Review - 1973

The Boston Transportation Planning Review (BTPR) reassessed the Commonwealth's transportation policies for the Boston Metropolitan Area. The BTPR concluded that no one mode of transportation entirely satisfied all the needs of the Metropolitan Area. Subsequently, a major shift in transportation policy was adopted to emphasize a "multi­modal" approach to metropolitan transportation needs. As part of that policy, a recommendation was made to extend the Red Line from its terminus in Harvard Square to Alewife and possibly beyond to Arlington and Lexington. During the BTPR, the urban core communities, particularly Cambridge, Somerville, and Arlington, indicated a strong desire for further extension of the Red Line to Route 128.

2. Red Line Environmental Impact Statement - 1976

The Red Line EIS reviews the regional factors which led to the consideration of the Red Line extension, including the population, housing, and economic characteristics of the Northwest Corridor subregion (Lexington, Bedford, Lincoln, Concord, Carlisle). The report concludes that the Red Line Extension would proceed to Arlington Heights via the B&M Lexington Branch, displacing existing commuter rail and freight operations on this line. This extension was found to be consistent with all State and regional land use and transportation policies. The report also discusses the issue of the eventual terminus of the Red Line Extension. A final terminus at Route 128 is assumed but analysis of an extension beyond Arlington Heights is not addressed in this report.

With respect to impacts in the area of construction and mitigating measures to minimize harm upon completion of the Red Line extension to Arlington Heights, the EIS committed the MBTA to grade, sod, and landscape the tunnel cut and cover area, enabling development of a linear park tying Thorndike Playground, Magnolia Field and the Alewife MDC reservation into the Town's overall open space system. The document presumed abandonment of the Lexington Branch railroad as a result of the Red Line project, allowing for the creation of the linear link desired by the Town of Arlington.

3. Minuteman Area Transit Study - 1976

During the Red Line Environmental analysis process just described, the MBTA and its consultants were evaluating the extension of the Red Line to Arlington Heights, with an understanding that an eventual extension to Route 128 would occur. The Town of Lexington, however, was unsure that an extension through Lexington to the Route 128 area was desirable and, therefore, made a specific request to the MBTA for a comprehensive study to assess the impact and feasibility of all public transportation options in Lexington, as well as other surrounding northwest metropolitan communities beyond Arlington. In response to this request, the Minuteman Area Transit Study (MATS) was initiated.

MATS was charged with the task of determining the travel patterns and needs of the communities served by Routes 2 and 3 as far out as I-495 and specifically, for the Northwest Corridor MBTA member communities of Bedford, Burlington, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln and Maynard. Specific transit improvement objectives were aimed at relieving the area's dependence on the automobile by providing an alternative means of travel with the consequential benefits of reducing highway traffic and congestion, and reducing air pollution caused by auto emissions.

The Study was separated into two phases. Phase I included a comprehensive examination of the Study area's travel needs and the development and evaluation of alternative plans to meet those needs. Such alternatives considered both local intra-community bus improvements and line haul inter-community transit services. Phase II included the further development and environmental analysis of feasible alternatives selected from the Phase I evaluation process.

4. MBTA Lexington Branch Purchase - 1976

B&M Sales Agreement: While granting to the MBTA "all right, title and interest (sufficient to permit the MBTA to operate a passenger service over the rail line ROW), in and to the Trustees Railroad ROW," the B&M Trustees nevertheless reserved the right and easement to continue freight service. The Lexington Branch is designated as a "jointly used line" for both B&M railroad freight service and MBTA railroad or transit passenger services, and the MBTA is given control over the use and maintenance of the line. The MBTA is further given the right to assume exclusive use of the line, whereupon the B&M Trustees are obliged to file for governmental approval to abandon railroad service.

5. Program for Mass Transportation - EOTC 1978

The Program for Mass Transportation (PMT) calls for the eventual extension of the Red Line to Route 128 in Lexington. The extension from Alewife to Lexington via the Lexington Branch ROW is cited as a "later stage" of the Red Line Northwest Extension Project.

6. Alewife Station and Garage - 1979

The Alewife Station and Garage complex, at the intersection of Routes 2 and 16 (Alewife Brook Parkway), is designed to act as a terminus for the Red Line for the foreseeable future, or "until the long-range goal of extending the Red Line to Route 128 is achieved. Design of the complex was completed in 1979; construction began in 1980 and will be completed in early 1985. The station platform itself is below grade, 440 feet in length and running beneath Alewife Brook Parkway. Station entry kiosks are situated on either side of the Parkway, with the main (west) entry being incorporated into the parking garage. Both station entrances wi11 be connected to the pedestrian and bicycle circulation network in the Alewife area. The five-level parking garage is major park-and-ride terminal, with space for about 2,000 vehicles, plus ample kiss-and-ride spaces. The garage is 630 feet by 324 feet, and has an expansion capability of 1,000 more spaces on two additional levels. The garage also incorporates 14 bus berths for connecting to MBTA surface transit, with a peak-hour capacity of about 60 buses.

7. Mill Street/Water Street Parking Agreement - 1979

The agreement, between the Town of Arlington and the MBTA, covers the lease of two parcels of MBTA-owned land between Mill and Water Streets, parallel to the Lexington Branch ROW to the Town of Arlington for use as a public parking area. The lease is a tenant-at-will arrangement, subject to termination by the MBTA upon 30 days notice.

8. B&M Bankruptcy Court Order - 1980

In response to a request from the Boston and Maine Railroad for permanent discontinuance of rail freight operations on the Lexington Branch, a court order was issued.

The Court Order, issued September 9, 1980, by Judge Murray of the U.S. District Court, states in part:

"...The Trustees shall not permit any part of the rail, track, ties or structures of the Lexington Branch used for freight service to be dismantled or removed from the Right-of-Way, except approximately 1,300 feet of track, and the signal system accessory to the track, lying in West Cambridge and East Arlington, to permit construction by MBTA of the complex consisting of the garage and subway station described in this Memorandum."

The B&M has interpreted this Order to mean that no rail, track, and ties can be removed with the exception of the 1,300 feet used to facilitate Red Line Construction, and that the length of track, etc. removed must be restored after completion of Red Line construction. Permanent removal of track, temporary removal of track in other areas (see item 10) or discontinuance of rail freight operations requires that a new Court Order be issued by the Judge or that the Court cease its jurisdiction over these proceedings.

9. Millbrook Valley Relief Sewer Agreement - 1984

In 1980, the MBTA Board of Directors authorized the MDC to proceed with the design of a force main and gravity sewer, the Millbrook Valley Relief Sewer, within the Lexington ROW from the Arlington-Lexington town line to Bedford Street in Lexington. An agreement for construction of the project was formalized in 1984. The MDC agrees:

In the event that future Red Line Construction or other MBTA improvements within the ROW require relocation of all or any part of the Sewer project, the MDC agrees to carry out the relocation at its own expense.

10. Arlington Memorandum of Understanding - 1982

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement between the Town of Arlington and the MBTA that gives the MBTA the right to use undeveloped parts of Magnolia Field and Margaret Street extension as a construction staging area, in return for the restoration of these areas upon completion of construction, including improved surface parking in the area of Margaret Street extension, and final drainage, grading, loaming, seeding, and a limited amount of landscaping of Magnolia Playground. The MBTA's use of Town-owned land is governed by a set of plans and specifications for construction staging and surface restoration provided by the Town and approved by the MBTA. Additional provisions of the MOU include the following:

11. Boston and Maine Motion to Amend - 1983

The B&M petitioned the U.S. District Court in 1983 seeking to amend the original 1980 Court Order governing the temporary abandonment of part of the Lexington ROW for Red Line construction. The request was made to seek permission to temporarily abandon approximately 3.7 miles of track in Lexington between the Arlington Town line and Bedford Street to allow construction by the MDC of the Millbrook Valley Relief Sewer within the ROW. The petition was granted by the Court under the condition that the MDC pay all costs of restoring the rail, track, ties, and structures in the affected areas after construction.

12. Alewife Station and Garage Interim Access Plan - 1984

Efficient vehicular access to Alewife Station and garage at the already congested intersection of Routes 2 and 16 (Dewey and Almy Circle) will require a major redesign of the intersection and the roadways approaching it. A final design for this major project, involving the realignment of Route 2 from Lake Street to a point south of Concord Circle, has been in the planning and review process for some time; the project's Environmental Impact Statement is currently being prepared, and construction is projected for the early 1990s. In the interim, MDPW, working with the MBTA and the affected communities, has developed an "interim access plan" to serve the Alewife Station and garage until the final design is implemented.

The interim plan involves the construction of two new ramps linking the station and garage to Route 2 - one inbound and one outbound - and the transformation of the rotary into a four-legged signalized intersection. The inbound ramp begins to separate from Route 2 at about the location of the pedestrian footbridge serving Arthur D. Little. It follows the alignment of Route 2, dropping to the level of the Lexington ROW, which it then follows into the station/garage complex. The outbound ramp starts at the intersection of the Lexington Branch ROW and the old Fitchburg Freight Cut-Off ROW and proceeds east along the latter ROW, between the garage and Yates Pond, under Route 16. This alignment is basically that of the haul road used in the Red Line construction project. The culvert under Route 16 will be replaced to accommodate the new road. East of Route 16, the outbound ramp makes a wide U­ turn and becomes one of the four legs of the revised Route 2/16 signalized intersection. Traffic entering and leaving the station/garage from Alewife Brook Parkway, north- and southbound, will use the reconstructed Rindge Avenue extension, with the present signalized intersection of Route 16 and Rindge Avenue being modified to accommodate the new alignment.



The Lexington Branch Right-of-Way (ROW) has been providing commuter rail and freight service to the Study area since prior to the Civil War. Commuter service experienced peak periods of utilization during the 25 year period prior to World War I. The expansion of rapid transit, street railway lines and the dramatic rise in use of the automobile since World War I undermined the privately owned, profit-motivated commuter service. In 1965, with the commuter rail service nearly bankrupt, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) initiated public subsidy to the Boston and Maine Railroad (B&M) to continue commuter service. However, the subsidy from the MBTA and the decreasing revenue from its freight operations did not allow for a comprehensive program to improve the deteriorating commuter rolling stock and ROW. This led to the unabated deterioration of this and other B&M facilities and the decline in commuter ridership and revenue. Consequently, the Boston and Maine filed for bankruptcy. In 1975 1976, the MBTA purchased facilities and equipment from the bankrupt B&M including the Lexington Branch. The terms of this sale provided an easement for the B&M to continue their freight operation while the MBTA took ownership of the ROW and the commuter rail service.

By the late 1970s, the deterioration of the Lexington Branch roadbed had resulted in a commuter rail one-way trip of 51 minutes with an average running speed of 18 miles per hour. Only 91 passengers per day were using the line by 1974.

In September of 1980, the U.S. District Court allowed the temporary abandonment of the Lexington Branch so that 1,300 feet of track could be removed in the West Cambridge-East Arlington area for the construction of the MBTA's Red Line complex at Alewife Brook Parkway. This order was amended by the court in 1983 to permit the temporary removal of approximately 3.7 miles of tracks in the Town of Lexington for the construction of the Metropolitan District Commission's (MDC) Millbrook Valley Relief Sewer.

Present Use

At this time, the Lexington Branch ROW is the temporary construction corridor of two major public works projects: the MBTA Red Line facility at Alewife and the MDC sewer project in Lexington. It should be remembered, however, that this is only a temporary situation and that both agencies are bound by court order to replace all rails, ties or structures removed for construction. When this latter task is completed, the ROW would again be available as a commuter rail/freight facility.

Present Condition

The Study corridor consists of an 11-mile single track rail facility. The corridor extends from South Road in Bedford through the towns of Lexington and Arlington to Alewife Brook Parkway in West Cambridge. The rails and structures through these areas have deteriorated through the years to a point where major repairs or replacement would be required before the resumption of rail service.

From South Road in Bedford to Bedford Street in Lexington, it appears that the ties and ballast would have to be replaced. Also, many areas have become overgrown with vegetation and will require clearing and grubbing in the track area.

From Bedford Street to the Arlington town line, the tracks have been temporarily removed by the MDC, in order to construct their Millbrook Valley Relief Sewer extension along the railroad ROW.

From the Arlington town line to a point just north of Route 2 in East Arlington, the existing facility is generally in the same poor condition as the Bedford-Lexington section.

Trackage in the East Arlington-Cambridge area has been temporarily removed for the construction of the MBTA's Alewife Red Line facility.

Along this 11 mile corridor there are 24 at-grade crossings of existing streets and private roadways. Some of these crossings have been resurfaced in past years covering the existing tracks. In addition to the 24 at grade crossings, there are approximately 10 grade-separated intersections and numerous stream and culvert crossings. All of these structures appear to be in need of a thorough structural inspection before rail service is restored.

In field checking the Study corridor there appear to be numerous conflicts between the ROW boundary as recorded on the corridor mapping and as developed by abutting property owners. These discrepancies could be due to strips of railroad property being sold or leased to abutters through the years or by encroachment by the abutters on unused portions of the ROW.

In Arlington and Lexington Centers the existing ROW narrows to widths of 20 to 18 feet. Transportation uses other than a single track rail facility will require land takings in these areas.

The construction of the Red Line extension to Alewife Brook Parkway and the Millbrook Valley Relief Sewer project in Lexington are scheduled to be completed in 1985 or 1986. At this time, the MBTA and MDC will be required to restore the LeXington Branch ROW in accordance with the U.S. District Court Oder.

Over the past five years, the merits of restoring this facility to its former use has been a subject of much debate. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to evaluate all of the options available and to identify the most effective use of the Lexington Branch ROW while assuring its preservation for mass transportation purposes.


Long Term Use

The State "Program for Mass Transportation" (EOTC 1978) called for the future extension of the Red Line from Alewife Brook Parkway to Route 128 in Lexington via the Lexington Branch ROW. The planned extension of this facility is still a part of the State's long range master plan.

To assure consistency with the long range plan and to avoid precluding long term options, a constraint to any short term use of the Lexington Branch ROW is the requirement that it be compatible with future transportation use of the ROW. Therefore, in the following sections all short term uses or joint uses have been analyzed for their compatibility with future transportation use.

Short Term Uses

The first task of the Study was to review the spectrum of alternatives for use of the ROW in the near future that would be compatible with the long range goals.

The potential uses were developed from a three phase program.

      1. All available past studies of the Lexington Branch ROW were obtained and reviewed. These studies addressed both transportation and recreational uses of the ROW. Also, all restrictions and commitments to ROW use were reviewed.

      2. While studies and reports were being reviewed, meetings were held with State agencies and local officials from each City and Town along the study corridor.

      3. During the third phase, public meetings were held in Arlington and Lexington to solicit public input and concerns.

      4. At the conclusion of this first stage of the Study, the following list of potential short term uses for the ROW had been compiled.

        • Freight Service

        • Bus Service

        • Light Rail

        • Commuter Rail

        • Minuteman Commuter Bikeway

        • Linear Park

        • No Action

Freight Service

Under this option the MBTA and MDC would replace railroad materials removed from the ROW for their construction projects, and all other tracks and structures would be repaired as necessary to allow for the resumption of freight service. No changes would be made to eliminate at-grade crossings or to upgrade the facility to a two-track system.

Bus Service

For this alternative it was assumed that the railroad ROW would be converted to a paved roadway from Alewife Station to Arlington Center or beyond for use by con­ ventional buses. The buses would have the ability to circulate within the local areas performing a collection function, before getting on the exclusive busway facility to Alewife Station.


This alternative would consist of a two track facility utilizing light rail vehicles operating as a shuttle between Bedford Center and Alewife Station. Vehicles would be light rail vehicles similar to those currently being used by the MBTA on the Green Line. These vehicles could operate as single cars or as trains to meet various demand requirements.

Commuter Rail

The commuter rail option would require the MBTA and MDC to replace all materials removed for their construction and necessary repairs to the remainder of the system. As in the freight system option, no changes would be made to eliminate at-grade crossings or increase the number of tracks.

The commuter rail facility would operate as it did in the past using a single track shuttle system either exclusively or shared with freight service. Vehicles would be like those currently being utilized by the MBTA's commuter system.

Minuteman Commuter Bikeway

The Minuteman Commuter Bikeway would be an 11 mile commuter/transportation bicycle highway utilizing the Lexington Branch Railroad ROW or a portion of the ROW in joint use with another transportation facility.

The bicycle highway would be a 12 foot wide paved roadway. The 12 foot width would allow access for police, fire and maintenance equipment. In addition to the construction of the roadway, existing structures would be modified or new structures constructed to carry the bikeway over streets and streams that are presently grade-separated. Ramps would be constructed at some existing street grade separations for access to the bike path. All existing at grade crossings would remain as is, but would be provided with appropriate warning signage for safety both on the bikeway and the intersecting street.

Linear Park

The Linear Park alternative would provide the local communities with a green belt that could provide bicycle paths, walking or jogging trails, play areas or nature areas.

No Action

Under this alternative it would be recommended that no short term use of the Lexington Branch ROW be pursued. This alternative would still require the MBTA and the MDC to replace all rails, ties and other items removed from the ROW for their construction projects.

In all of the above short term alternatives, the possibility of utilizing elevated structures on all of the 24 at-grade crossings has been ruled out for the purposes of this Study. Elevated structures were considered to be an environmental intrusion incompatible with the area's aesthetic and historical character and unacceptable to the community. It was also felt that elimination of all at-grade crossings would increase the cost factor of the proposed transportation alternatives to a point where it would approach rapid transit costs while providing only a portion of the service improvement that could be provided by the long term facility. Therefore, at-grade crossing elimination has not been considered for short term alternatives.


Goals and Constraints

As previously indicated, the long range plan for the Lexington Branch ROW is for the future extension of the Red Line to Route 128 in Lexington. To assure consistency with this long range plan, a constraint to any short term use is the requirement that it not preclude the future transportation use of the ROW.

Basic goals for transportation improvements on facilities such as the Lexington Branch ROW are to maximize transportation use at minimum cost with minimum adverse environmental and community impact.

Within the context of these goals and constraints a number of criteria have been identified for the purpose of screening and evaluating various options for short term use of this facility.

Transportation Criteria


The cost criteria utilized in screening the various alternatives include capital cost, equivalent annual cost and the equivalent annual cost per passenger.

Capital Cost

This item considers the initial cost of each alternative, taking into consideration all construction costs, vehicle needs, stations and parking, storage and maintenance facilities and ROW requirements.

Equivalent Annual Cost

The amortized capital costs, plus net operating costs are combined into an equivalent annual cost for the comparison of alternates.

Equivalent Annual Cost Per Passenger

The equivalent annual cost values and the projected new ridership levels are utilized to evaluate the economic effectiveness of each alternative in terms of level of service provided.

Adverse Environmental Impacts

Four major areas of environmental impact have been considered in this study.

1. Right-of-Way Requirements

Various alternatives proposed may require land takings such as in the central business areas of Lexington and Arlington for stations and parking facilities required by that alternative. This would be a major concern of those communities and an important factor in the selection of the proposed alternative.

2. Physical Land Use Impact

Negative impacts must be held to a surrounding man-made land uses including recreational lands, residential and commercial districts and historic sites, and/or natural land uses including wetlands, flood plains, surface water courses and conservation land.

3. Air Quality

Some of the alternatives could affect the air quality within the Study area. A transportation alternative that would divert automobil~ users to a new facility could reduce the automobile produced pollutants in this area. However, considBration also has to be given to the possible increased pollution of the immediate corridor by the choice of transportation technology used.

4. Expressed Community Goals, Needs and Policy Considerations

It is of foremost importance that the proposed action respond to the needs and desires of the communities and groups potentially impacted by the proposed alternative. Not only must the need and desires of the local communities be considered, but also those of all the corridor communities and the region as a whole. The policies of the individual towns impacted by the proposed alternatives can have a significant influence upon the development and evaluation of these same alternatives. Town policies will affect elements such as station or boarding locations, parking provisions, access to the ROW, adjoining land protection and other items.

Although the number of critical elements established for screening the various alternatives is substantial, it will be seen during the elimination process that it was not necessary to analyze each alternative against each and every element. Many of the alternatives proved to be incompatible with some of the initial criteria to such an extent that they were deemed unacceptable and further study could not be justified.

Screening of Alternatives: Commuter Rail

As previously discussed, commuter rail service was a primary function on the Lexington Branch ROW for many years. From its peak period of commuter utilization prior to World War I, the use of commuter rail has steadily declined. In 1965, ridership on the Lexington Branch indicated that this system was serving 269 daily passengers. By 1974, this ridership had declined to only 97 daily passengers, a loss of 59% in this 9 year period.

The steady decline in ridership can be attributed to several factors, the bottom line being that by 1974 the Lexington Branch provided a relatively low level of service to corridor commuters.

The equipment utilized on the commuter system was capable of speeds of up to 80 MPH. However, they were limited to 30-35 miles per hour on the Lexington Branch. The reduced speed was due to the existing limitations of the ROW, in particular the 24 at-grade crossings within the Study area. During the 1960s, the lack of maintenance on the roadbed became a major influence on service on this line. As the roadbed continued to deteriorate, the running speed continued to decline. By the 1970s, the average running speed was reduced to 18 MPH. With an 18 MPH running speed, the trip from Bedford to Boston was about 51 minutes. This was 6 minutes longer than commuting by automobile or bus.

As in most cases, the deterioration of one part of a system leads to deterioration of others. In the case of the Lexington Branch commuter line, the reduction in running speed resulted in longer trip times. This in turn resulted in decreased ridership, which in turn resulted in a reduced schedule and finally, a very unattractive alternative for the Cambridge- or Boston-bound commuter.

With the replacement of tracks in the two construction areas, as presently required by Court order, and the rehabilitation of the remainder of the corridor, the level of service provided in the early 1960s could be restored.

A past study on mass transit estimated that 625 daily automobile trips would be diverted to a commuter rail facility and the total annual ridership would be in the range of 120,000 trips. In comparison, the same study estimated automobile diversion figures of 4,200 daily trips and 1,580,000 annual trips to a rapid transit system in this same corridor. The lower figures for commuter rail are based on lack of trip time savings, inconvenience and limited parking facilities.

Parking is presently at a premium in both Arlington and Lexington and the need to provide low cost parking spaces for commuters would create major problems. Even if new parking spaces could be provided, the limited trip time savings (8 minutes) and the need to transfer at Alewife to another system would limit its attraction to the daily commuter.

The resumption of commuter rail service on the Lexington Branch would also require reconstructing a rail connection to the Fitchburg Main Line, increasing the capital cost of this option.

Aesthetically, the existing condition of the ROW has an adverse impact along the entire corridor. With so many schools, playgrounds, residential and historic sites in the area, the resumption of rail service could not be expected to improve this condition. Air and noise pollution created by this alternative would be negligible.

Past 1976 studies have indicated that this alternative would cost approximately $33.00 per passenger trip, compared to $2.00 per trip for a conventional bus alternative.

1976 costs have been adjusted by using an inflation factor of 1.8 resulting in a 1984 capital cost of $52 million and an annual operating cost of $6 million.

In reviewing the goals for mass transportation improvements, commuter rail was found to have two major deficiencies that could be overcome by other alternatives. Commuter rail would attract less than 700 of the potential 4,200 automobile diversions and only 120,000 annual passenger trips. This system would also incur a cost per passenger trip in the vicinity of $50.00. This would be higher than any other mass transit alternatives studied. Commuter rail was, therefore, dropped from further consideration.

Light Rail

The construction of a light rail system from Bedford to Alewife could provide some advantages over a commuter rail facility.

With light rail, single or multiple car arrangements could provide a more flexible service schedule. This would help to meet the area transit demands more efficiently.

As light rail vehicle acceleration and deceleration can be accomplished faster than commuter rail vehicles, station spacing can be much closer. With the option of providing a series of stops, the need for larger commuter parking areas would be eliminated, reducing station impacts.

1976 study figures indicate that light rail on this corridor would divert 750 of the potential 4,200 automobile trips and would have an annual ridership of 200,000 trips.

Air and noise pollution would be minimal.

Although there are minor advantages over a commuter rail system, light rail was found to have many disadvantages and adverse impacts.

Although Light rail would divert more automobile trips (750) than commuter rail the diversions would still be low when compared to the potential of this area (4,200).
With the possibility of many stops along the corridor, the trip time will be increased. Additional time will be added to trips due to the need to transfer at Alewife to another mode.

Environmental intrusion of the system on the ROW would maintain the existing negative aesthetic effect on the residential and historic areas along the corridor.

Maintenance of the light rail equipment would present some problem to the Authority, as this equipment will not be able to travel over the Red Line trackage to an existing repair facility. Any equipment in need of repair would have to be trucked to an existing facility.

The safety concerns for commuters and automobiles would be increased due to a more frequent conflict at the numerous at-grade crossings.

The cost of constructing a light rail facility would be considerably higher than for the commuter rail. The capital cost for light rail would be in the range of $91 million, whereas the commuter rail was $52 million.

Projected figures indicate that a light rail system would have an annual operating cost of $8.2 million This would be about 37% higher than commuter rail, while providing only minor advantages over that system.

The light rail option screening indicates the following:

This system would attract 750 of the potential 4,200 patrons

Capital cost and operating costs would be higher than that of commuter rail

The 1976 cost per passenger trip was approximately $41.00 compared to $1.00 anticipated for a conventional bus.

Overall, the light rail alternative was considered to be less desirable than commuter rail and w~s dropped from further consideration.

No Action

A "no action" alternative is generally exactly what the term implies: That is, to leave everything as is. The consequences of "no action" are then evaluated in the same way as other alternatives. In the case of the Lexington Branch corridor, however, the broadly defined "no action" alternative actually includes two rather distinct scenarios.

The first "no action" scenario, in light of the standing Court Order, requires the MBTA and MDC to replace all track, ties, and structures removed for their projects at a substantial cost, sufficient to allow the resumption of freight service. Under this scenario, the assumption is that the MBTA and MDC follow the court order and restore the track, etc., but that no freight service is actually provided. The Court Order, it should be noted, does not mandate the resumption of freight service, only that the track be maintained. This could result in the track system simply lying idle and deteriorating.

The second scenario suggests that the MBTA return to the U.S. District Court and, arguing that there is no longer sufficient demand to justify retaining the tracks, seek once again to abandon freight service on the Lexington ROW. Assuming that this petition is successful, the ROW would then be allowed to remain idle, with no active use.

Both scenarios have a similar short-term outcome in that, whether or not the tracks are restored to satisfy the Court Order, the ROW remains idle. The "no action" option in fact suggests a deterioration of the environmental value of the ROW, and the potential for the creation of a nuisance; for the accumulation of trash and dumping; increased pressures to allow encroachments or to sell off segments of the ROW; and a generally increasing problem of maintenance.

In summary, the "no action" option is perceived as providing no short-term benefit to the community or to the Commonwealth. Neither is it a particularly effective means of meeting a primary criterion of this study - the preservation of the ROW for long-term transportation needs. With all of the options available that could provide some form of benefit from this facility, the "no action" alter­ native was considered unacceptable and dropped from further consideration.

Linear Park

The primary objective of a Linear Park alternative would be to provide a green belt along the Lexington Branch ROW Corridor where active and passive recreational facilities could be provided for local residents. Bikeways within this facility could be constructed to serve as a transportation facility from Bedford to the Alewife Station area. The park concept would undoubtably have many more advantages than disadvantages to the abutting communities. However, it would be classified as a recreational facility, potentially precluding long-term transportation use, which is totally inconsistent with the allowable use of the corridor.

As the purpose of this study is to determine a short­ term use for the corridor that is compatible with the long range transportation plan, the Linear Park alternative was dropped from further consideration.


Exclusive Busway

Although some adverse environmental impacts would be encountered from buses traveling along the ROW, there appear to be many positive benefits provided by this alternative.

Overall, this alternative offers many of the benefits of a rapid transit system but at a significantly lower cost. It has the potential ability to provide a high quality transit service and meet transit needs. A busway would be relatively simple to construct and would provide a system with a capital cost commensurate with anticipated benefits.

The initial screening of this alternative indicated that it appears to provide many of the desired short term goals and is worthy of further study.

Minuteman Transportation Bikeway

A bikeway alternative cannot be considered as an answer to the mass transportation needs of the area. It does, however, provide a unique and much needed transportation facility. This need has been endorsed by all of the communities along the corridor. Environmental impacts of this alternative would be minimal. In most areas, it would provide a substantially improved environmental climate.

The bikeway alternative with all of its community benefits should be retained for further study as a transportation facility.

Freight Service

Freight service has been provided on the Lexington Branch (ROW) for many years, serving the needs of local businesses. During the construction of the two major public works projects, this service has been temporarily discontinued. As this is only a temporary condition, it must be assumed that this alternative is the existing function provided by the corridor.

The resumption of this service would result in the same adverse environmental impacts that the communities have experienced for years including aesthetic intrusion, noise and air pollution. It should be noted that the air and noise pollution factors are minimal compared to other transportation alternatives studied due to the infrequency of freight operations. Obviously, the people living adjacent to the corridor have been very happy with the temporary stoppage of freight operations for environmental and safety reasons. There are, however, other factors that must be considered. Abandonment of freight service could have an adverse effect on the economics of the communities. The present need for freight service must be determined and the ramifications of lost jobs and local taxes evaluated if this service is abandoned.


The evaluation of the three uses that remain as feasible alternatives is structured in a manner similar to that of the preliminary screening. Each is use evaluated according to:

The description of each alternative also includes a background summary of issues relating to that alternative.



The benefits provided by the use of the Lexington Branch ROW as an exclusive busway potentially include a relatively low capital development cost, economic and flexible operation, and good cost/revenue relationships. These potentials were also apparent at the time of the MATS study, which evaluated the exclusive busway option as one of a series of possible line-haul alternatives for mass transit service beyond Arlington. With the other line haul alternatives all involving some form of fixed rail, the busway option offered the lowest cost by a wide margin, with the potential of extending the transit corridor to Route 128 in the mid-term future.

In the busway option, conventional buses can circulate through the local service area, picking up passengers, before getting on the busway at an existing street intersection. Frequent stops for passenger pickup along the busway are possible; alternatively, service on the busway can be run as an express operation, with provisions made for signal pre-emption by buses at grade crossings.


With the current extension of the Red Line terminating at Alewife, and any continuation to Arlington Heights or Route 128 relegated to long-range plans, recent analyses of bus service in the Northwest Corridor have focussed on modifications to provide service to Alewife Station. The MBTA's transit consultant (under another study) has also evaluated potential ridership on a Lexington Branch exclusive busway from Arlington Center to Alewife. This segment involves only 1.42 miles of the potential 10.2 mile total exclusive ROW to Bedford. It is the segment of the ROW on which an exclusive busway would have the greatest potential.

Exclusive Busway: Arlington Heights-Route 128
Cost Breakdown - 1974/1976

Guideway at grade 6.818 miles @ 585 million $3.988 million
Special Conditions 3 bridges, total area 5,500 sf @ $50 sf $0.270 million

Guideway Sub-Total

  $4.258 million
Signal and Communications $25,000/intersection (traffic control) @ 13 intersections $.0900 million
Rolling Stock (Buses) $60,000/vehicle @ 15 vehicles $0.900 million
Stations Minor Line Station -5 @ $150,000 $0.750 million
  Major Station and Parking Rte. 128 - 1 @ $750,000 $0.750 million
Right-of-Way Station 10 acres @ $20,000/acre $0.200 million

Total Cost - 1974

  $7.183 million
a. Inflation 1974-1976: 19%    
b. Engineering: 10% of inflated cost    
c. Contingencies: 15% of inflated cost and engineering    
Adjustment Factor: 1.505    

Adjusted Cost - 1976

  $10.818 million

Say $11.000 million

Source: Minuteman Area Transit Study

The MBTA consultant estimates that an Arlington Center-Alewife busway would carry 2,400 riders per day (6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.; 15% more including evening riders) if local service is also provided from Arlington Heights to Harvard Square and 3,300 riders (again plus 15% for evenings) without local service. These riders would come from three routes which might be routed over the busway into Alewife:

Average speed on the 1.42 mile busway is estimated at 25 mph. With two stops, estimated travel time is 4.4 minutes. This compares to 8.6 minutes travel time from Arlington Center to Alewife via Massachusetts Avenue and the Parkway (a saving of 4.2 minutes) and 12.7 minutes from Arlington Center to Harvard Square (a saving of 8.3 minutes).

Providing service on the busway without maintaining local routes on Mass Avenue would result in a major reduction in service on Mass Avenue. Therefore, it is assumed that busway service would be in addition to existing routes, and would involve some splitting or alternating of scheduled buses between routes. A consequence of this, which counterbalances the shorter travel time for those riders using the busway, is longer waiting time for both busway and non-busway riders. The effect is that there would be a net overall increase in travel time resulting from operations on an exclusive busway. The MBTA study further states:

The concept of splitting the Mass Avenue service into Alewife and Harvard branches leads to some significant negative user impacts. Most riders (all except those making trips solely within portions of Arlington) are required to wait longer for the bus they want, although some benefit from reduced overall travel time via Alewife. These impacts total almost 100,000 per son-hours per year for alternative 3B [local service from Arlington Heights to Harvard Square], and 215,000 person-hours per year for Alternative 3C [local service from Arlington Center to Harvard Square]. Because of these impacts, it may not be advisable to split the service at all. The busway would add some service benefits, by reducing travel time for those outside of Arlington Center, but would create longer wait times for those inside Arlington Center.

For Option 3B, 2,700 passengers per day could have their trip time reduced by an average of 4.2 minutes (56,700 hours per year). On the other hand, 1877 intra-Arlington passengers would have a longer wait for the bus they want (at 3.25 minutes, this totals 30,500 hours per year); and 1781 rapid-transit passengers from East Arlington. would have to go to Harvard Square, at an increase of 5.6 minutes (4.1 minutes longer via Harvard, compared to present, plus 1.5 minutes additional running time on the bus to make local stops in Cambridge) compared to routing buses to Alewife via Mass Avenue (49,900 hours per year). The net result is an overall increase in travel time in the corridor of 23,700 hours per year compared to Alternative 3B, or 122,000 hours compared to the base case.

For Option 3C, the reasoning is similar. The busway saves busway users the same 4.2 minutes; with the greater number of users, the saving is 79,800 hours per year. The intra-Arlington passengers impacted above will have to make an extra transfer at Arlington Center under this option (102,300 hours per year); and the East Arlington rapid transit passengers will have an extended wait (89,000 hours per year). The net increase in travel time is 111,500 hours per year over Alternative 3C, or 326,500 compared to the base case.


The estimated cost for the busway segment from Arlington Heights to Hartwell Avenue, including a parking area at Hartwell Avenue, was $11 million in the 1977 MATS study. (See Table) This equates to a cost-per-mile, in 1976 dollars, of $1.9 million. Applying a inflation factor to update the cost to 1985 dollars provides a 1985 cost per mile of $3.6 million, or a $35-40 million cost for a 10.2 mile busway. The cost of a more moderate scale busway, excluding a major terminal station and purchase of new rolling stock, would amount to $1.2 million per mile in 1976 dollars and an estimated $2.25 million in 1985.

Using an estimated 1985 per-mile construction cost of $2.25 million for guideway and minor line stations only, the 1.42 mile segment from Alewife to Arlington Center would cost approximately $3.2 million to build.


There are a number of negative user impacts that appear when the concept of an exclusive busway is compare1 to continuation of service on Mass Avenue. In addition to requiring longer waits for vehicles, use of the busway would generally involve a longer walk to and from home or other origin/destination than service on Mass Avenue. Mass Avenue is truly the spine of the corridor, and is generally coincident with the highest residential densities as well as almost all shopping and other activity. From a pedestrian perspective, the ROW is generally isolated, and is accessible at only relatively few points from intersecting streets.

These problems are even more pronounced when comparing the ROW alignment with Mass Avenue beyond Arlington Center. The use of this segment as a busway would also negate the possibility of collecting passengers on local routes and feeding into the busway at Arlington Center.

Thus, although the busway option appears to provide some transit benefit, on closer analysis this use in fact has numerous drawbacks from a transit service perspective. Other problems include the perceived impacts of noise and air quality reduction resulting from the introduction of diesel buses on the ROW. Safety considerations at grade crossings are also a concern. A two-lane busway would require some additional land-takings in areas where the ROW is most narrow, as at Arlington and Lexington Centers.


As an interim use, the exclusive busway remains compatible with the long-range policy for the ROW: it does not preclude a Red Line extension to Route 128. The busway is also generally compatible with either of the other two interim uses, the Minuteman Bikeway and continued freight service. Joint use of the ROW for either combination, however, would entail a significant cost increment to allow for new bridges, earthwork, safety fencing, etc.

Overall, although the creation of an exclusive busway remains a feasible use, the lack of a clear transportation benefit, the absence of local support, and the environmental problems identified above all combine to suggest that the busway be dropped from further consideration in this study.



The potential demand for rail freight service in the Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford/Hanscom Field area has been investigated by contacting a number of the major businesses in the area with facilities abutting the ROW. E.W. Larson & Sons, Inc., Arlington, a building materials distributor, was the only active rail freight user when the line was temporarily abandoned. Several other former or potential users exist in the Arlington-Lexington area. Other potential users are located on the main line of the ROW in Bedford. In addition, there is a spur which provides rail access to Hanscom Field; several possible users are located on the civilian portion of the Field.


Bedford Main Line

Almost all of the available land adjacent to the ROW in Bedford has been developed by four companies: Millipore Corporation, Spire Corporation, Atex Corporation, and American Hospital Supply. The remaining, undeveloped land is mostly wetlands. Information was obtained from each of the above companies.

Millipore Corporation: Occupies a 31 acre site adjacent to the ROW. Ships 80% of its products by air; not interested in rail freight now or in the future. Millipore presently has an easement for water and electrical service under the ROW from South Road. They would be interested in leasing some of the ROW for parking and support future rapid transit use of the ROW.

Spire Corporation: Manufacture solar energy products - panels and other equipment. Ship by truck; have not shipped anything by rail in over two years and have no interest in doing so now or in the future. Firm has 140 employees; the company would be a strong supporter of the bikeway.

Atex Corporation: 900 employees in 3 plants in the immediate area of Wiggins Avenue, one of which has ROW frontage. This facility, however, is the administrative offices; manufacturing is across Wiggins Avenue. Atex manufactures electronic editing equipment and ships almost exclusively by padded van. Their shipping is very time­sensitive, requiring 4-5 day cross country service which they cannot obtain by rail. They do not buy materials in sufficient quantity to receive shipments by rail. Atex has no interest in rail freight now or in the future.

American Hospital Supply: A sales and distribution facility for laboratory and hospital supplies; does extensive shipping by truck but foresees no potential for rail freight use. Facility employs 75-100 people on a 6 acre site.

Hanscom Field Area - Spur Track

Hanscom Field itself is used for both civilian and military air cargo operations. The military operations service the USAF Electronic Systems Division.

Conversations with representatives of the Air Force's Logistics and Engineering sections at Hanscom Air Force Base indicate little or no Air Force interest in renewed rail freight service. Although Air Force air cargo operations include frequent C-130 and C-141 flights (these planes are the military equivalents of the Boeing 707), most material originates and terminates on the base itself. Air Force representatives could not recall the use of rail freight service in the last 10 to 15 years and are satisfied with the level of service presently provided by trucking to and from off-base destinations. The Air Force has in fact scheduled the removal of the spur track segment on its property.

Civilian operations at Hanscom service several area businesses. In 1976, there were a total of 244,000 operations (takeoffs or landings) of which 2/3 were Hanscom­based craft, and 93% were light propeller craft. Only 3% of the total operations (7,320) were either cargo or military. Most freight operations are at night. Hanscom policy limits use of larger and heavier craft, and imposes a surcharge on night use (11:00 P.M. - 7:00 A.M.) of $150 per operation ($300 per operation above 5 operations per year for a given user). These factors, in particular the small scale of aircraft used for freight shipment, indicate little likelihood of the need for rail freight access to Hanscom for general civilian use.

The Hanscom Master Plan, prepared by MassPort in 1978, states:


Currently there are a small number of cargo operations at Hanscom Field providing express air freight service to all parts of the country. These services are used widely by area businesses which ship high value parts and documents for next day delivery. There are also civilian cargo operations which support military mission under contract.

With the exception of military operations, there are two types of cargo service at Hanscom:

1. Small business jets which have been converted for cargo use [and]

2. Air taxi cargo services in small propeller-driven aircraft which are also modified versions of business passenger aircraft.

These two types of service are currently provided in aircraft that are not usually used in major airline operations and they have been operating at Hanscom for several years. Until recently, the size of the equipment used in these operations has been limited by law.

On November 18, 1977 legislation was passed which deregulated the air cargo industry, thereby lifting weight, capacity, and route and rate restrictions previously applied to certificated and commuter cargo carriers. All presently operating cargo carriers may now apply to the Civil Aeronautics Board for certificates.


The presently operating types of cargo services at Hanscom Field will be continued. Prior to implementation of new and/or expanded cargo service, proposals will be thoroughly reviewed with the Hanscom Field Advisory Committee for their economic and noise emission implications.

The Hanscom Field Master Plan also indicates the possibility of future development on MassPort-owned land that is not required for Airport use. Planning for this land is to be done in conjunction with local communities, and could include "where affected towns are interested, developing commercial or light industrial uses.” Although this possibility could result in a future source of rail freight demand, the current survey of compatible uses makes it clear that this is rather unlikely.

Digital Equipment Corporation rents its own hanger at Hanscom. A DEC representative stated, however, that DEC's freight needs were quite small, consisting primarily of high priority, high value air shipments to Ottawa and Burlington, VT. The DEC representative did not see any clearly defined future need for rail service, nor did he anticipate any objection to abandonment of Lexington ROW freight service.

Arlington/Lexington Area

E.W. Larson & Sons, Inc., the user that opposed abandonment of freight service on the Lexington ROW, was the only active rail freight customer when service was discontinued to allow for construction of the Red Line terminus at Alewife. Larson, located at Mill Lane in Arlington, used its own siding at Mill Lane and a public delivery siding in Arlington Center to receive building materials shipments by rail, later redistributing these materials by truck. Since service has been discontinued, Larson has continued to receive shipments at a public delivery siding in the Lechmere Terminal area.

Recent B&M records indicate that the Larson Company receives 25-30 carloads per month at this location; a total of 104 carloads were recorded in the first four months of 1984.

The Larson company has, until recently at least, continued to seek either restoration of freight service on the Lexington Branch in accordance with the Court Order, or a financial settlement in return for an agreement with the motion to abandon service permanently.

Representatives of Arlington Coal and Lumber Company, located at Park Street in Arlington, recall receiving about 100 freight cars per year at their own siding when service was terminated. A similar volume of freight delivery demand was predicated if service is restored. By comparison, according to B&M records, Arlington Coal and Lumber received two carloads at the Lechmere public delivery track during the first four months of this year.

Other major former users in Arlington no longer exist, as noted in the Court Order relative to the abandonment proceedings. The former New England Farmers operation, which used to receive 30 to 35 cars per month, is now a Bay Banks Computer Center; Bethlehem Steel's former distribution center discontinued operations at this location in about 1976.

Two other existing businesses in Arlington did express some interest in renewed freight service:


The cost to restore a single-track rail freight service over the 10.2 mile ROW is estimated at $22 million. This estimate is based on the cost of replacing removed tracks, ties, and signals, and rehabilitating tracks that have not been removed, plus constructing a new span across the Little River and upgrading existing bridges.


With respect to rail freight, impacts of concern include both those that would be associated with the permanent abandonment of service, and those that would be associated with the resumption of service. The impacts of abandonment are largely related to the effect on businesses that have in the past or might in the future rely on rail freight service, and the tax consequences of this effect. From this perspective, it appears that, with the potential exception of the Larson operation in Arlington, no current commercial or industrial operation in the corridor has suffered any loss of business or loss of jobs due to the abandonment of rail freight service. Historically, locational decisions related to new development in the Corridor have not been affected by the lack of rail freight service. It would thus appear that there has been no loss of tax revenue to local communities that is attributable to the lack of rail service. In fact, other land uses displacing businesses that would use rail freight would typically generate more tax revenue than the uses they replace.

The Larson property appears to be an example of this pattern. The property is now actively being marketed. According to the Town of Arlington Department of Planning and Community Development, recent interest in the parcel has centered around residential redevelopment. The DPCD has indicated support for this reuse and its willingness to work with interested developers to carry out such a project. In Lexington, the Lexington Lumber Company, another former rail freight user, has recently gone out of business. The site is scheduled for redevelopment as office use. Either of these proposed uses would generate substantially more tax revenue than the existing operations.

The impacts of restoration of rail service are more varied. Primarily, these impacts relate to the problem of physically accommodating continued rail service in the context of a significantly changed environment at Alewife. If rail freight is extended beyond the Larson operation in Arlington, restoration of the tracks will also impact the MDC's Mill Brook Sewer project in Lexington, where tracks have been removed.

At Alewife, continuation of rail freight service will require the construction of a second span for the Alewife Brook Parkway crossing of the Fitchburg Main Line to accommodate the additional track required. Rail freight traffic would be routed along the median area of the access roads immediately to the west of the Alewife Station garage. Although the vehicular circulation pattern was laid out to accommodate this situation, if necessary, the potential exists for both safety problems and - more particularly - traffic bottlenecks if freight use is resumed.

Similarly, renewed freight service could create safety problems at the Magnolia-Thorndike recreation area just north of Alewife Station and Route 2. The ROW bisects these two playfield areas and, although the design of the facilities provides space for the restoration of a single track rail line, operation of this line would be a safety problem. The problem could be partly addressed by erecting fencing along the ROW, but the need to link the facilities for pedestrians and bicycle users would require grade crossings at one or more locations.

A decision to restore rail service, or retain the option to do so later, would also affect current plans by the Town of Arlington and MDPW for street and landscape improvements in Arlington Center. Preparation of final plans is currently underway with a 100% submission to MDPW expected by mid-November. The project schedule calls for the bid process to take place in mid-winter and for construction to start in late April 1985. In response to the possibility that the rail tracks may be restored, the final design calls for existing grades to be maintained (within one inch or so) at the project limit lines at Swan Place and Mystic Street (Route 60) where the ROW intersects the project area. Grades within the project area along the ROW are also to be held close to existing grades. However, the improvements do call for the track area to be paved over, with the installation of vertical curbs, walks, traffic islands, trees and planting areas across the ROW. Furthermore, the signalization for the intersection does not take the rail line into account.

Finally, although the two uses can share the ROW, restoration of the freight line would have a substantial impact on the cost and complexity of developing the proposed Minuteman bikeway. This issue is discussed in more detail in the following section.


As a matter of both principle and policy, a valuable transportation resource such as the Lexington Branch ROW should not be abandoned. However, this study finds insufficient current market support for resumption of freight service at this time. Renewed freight service would have a disruptive effect and/or cost impact on a number of facilities in the Alewife area, including the Route 16/Fitchburg Main Line bridge, Alewife Station garage, and the Thorndike/Magnolia Field complex. Given these findings, it may be reasonable to suggest that the MBTA return to the District Court once again to seek abandonment of freight service in order to avoid what currently seems the unjustifiable expense of restoring the track to serviceable condition at this time.

There may arise in the future some currently unforeseen need for freight service, either at Hanscom Field or elsewhere in the corridor. Given this possibility, and given the fact that continued freight service is not perceived as being in conflict with the long-term transportation use of the ROW, it would be prudent to retain the option of restoration of freight service. This option is also compatible, under certain conditions, with the interim development of the Minuteman Bikeway, as detailed below.



The concept of a Minuteman Bikeway, using the Lexington Branch ROW for an 11 mile corridor from the Alewife Station area to South Street in Bedford, was originally proposed to MAPC by the Town of Lexington in 1978. The idea was further developed, under the guidance of MAPC, by the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway Working Committee, including representatives from adjacent towns, MBTA, MDPW, EOEA, MDC, and the Sierra Club.

Present plans call for the construction of an 11 mile long commuter bikeway, 12 feet in width, to standards similar to those used in roadway construction. The ROW would be leased by the communities from the MBTA, and maintained by each community through which it passes. Construction would be 75% to 100% funded by an MDPW program which provides such funding for regional bikeway facilities. Neither construction nor maintenance, therefore, would be the MBTA's responsibilities.


Demand estimates made in the MAPC study indicate a high level of expected usage, both for trips to and from Alewife station, and between other points along the ROW. The route is very attractive as a straight-line connection between Bedford and Alewife, passing through Arlington Center and Lexington Center, with a minimum of street crossings and a relatively level profile.

The MAPC study estimates that as many as 6,000 riders per day would use the bikeway. The estimate is built up from observations on actual bicycle usage in the Study corridor. This figure is not broken down to differentiate between commuter trips to Alewife station and other trips. Of those people who do commute by bicycle, it is expected that the great majority, perhaps two-thirds, would go on to their destination rather than transfer to the Red Line at Alewife.

Another estimate of bicycle usage can be derived from CTPS data on total corridor work trips. CTPS estimates of total corridor work trips, as derived from the 1980 US Census, including trips within the corridor and trips destined for Cambridge and Boston, by town of origin, are as follows:

Bedford: 1,743

Lexington: 4,682

Arlington: 9,042

Corridor Total: 15,467

CTPS further estimates that, for the region as a whole, roughly one percent of those who commute to downtown Boston do so by bicycle. Other local census data indicates that the percentage of those who commute to work by bicycle ranges from 6.4% in Cambridge, to 0.2% in Bedford.

Given the variance of these figures, it is reasonable to estimate that bicycle commutation in the corridor could range from 0.2 to 6.4 of total work trips, suggesting a range of 31 to 992 daily one-way bicycle work trips in the bikeway corridor. This figure would be increased if out­ bound commuters from Boston and Cambridge were taken into account. At the high end of the range, and including these outbound commuters, an estimate of 1,000 bicycle commuters per day seems reasonable.

Although the two estimates - of total riders by MAPC and bicycle commuters based on CTPS - are derived from different data sources and may not be directly comparable, a comparison of the two figures suggests a rough proportion of work trips to total trips for bicycle riders of 1 to 6. This ratio is not out of line with other CTPS regional travel data, which indicates that for various zones within the corridor, ratios of work trips to total trips range from 1 to 3 to 1 to 5.

It should be stressed that the MAPC bikeway usage estimates are not based on the total CTPS-estimated corridor work trips, but rather on assumptions extrapolated from counts of actual bicycle usage in the corridor. It is also worth noting that the bikeway runs adjacent to both Arlington and Lexington High Schools, as well as a number of elementary and intermediate schools. It can be safely assumed that a substantial number of the students at these facilities would avail themselves of an opportunity for a bicycle trip to school.


The cost of development of the bikeway, including necessary modifications, track and tie removal, some lighting, and a high level of landscape and intersection improvements, was estimated by MAPC (1980 dollars) as up to $1,872,200. MAPC estimates that about $220,000 of this cost could be saved if the MDC removes tracks and ties and does surface rough grading as part of its Mill Brook Valley Sewer project in Lexington. The overall facility cost could be reduced by another $500,000, according to MAPC, by eliminating lighting and scaling back other improvements. Assuming an intermediate level of improvements, and taking into account the savings achieved by the MDC sewer project, MAPC's adjusted estimate (1980 dollars) is $1,300,200. Updated to 1985 dollars, the cost would be approximately $1,750,000 or roughly $170,000 per mile for a 10.2 mile bikeway.

A small initial segment of the bikeway, connecting Varnum and Thorndike Streets in East Arlington, will be constructed as part of the Magnolia Field/Margaret Street extension improvements to be provided by the MBTA under the Arlington/MBTA Memorandum of Understanding. This segment is designed to the standards recommended by MAPC.


The use of the corridor as a bikeway does not appear to pose any major physical impacts, even under the condition of a potential joint use. Nor are there expected to be any negative environmental impacts - noise, air quality, etc.

There is some concern among abutters that development of the bikeway would expose their properties to increased noise from users, the potential for motorcycle access, and possible vandalism. The risk of these problems is hard to quantify. Experience in some comparable areas has shown that most motorcyclists tend to prefer streets or off-road situations and would avoid a paved bicycle path. Development of a paved and lighted bikeway would in fact make police surveillance easier. Some level of police presence would be desirable to minimize the possibility of abuse of the bikeway.

Short-term construction impacts would be limited by the modest scale of the project. Potential long-term use of the ROW for a future Red Line extension is not affected by the bikeway, which continues the transportation use of the ROW. In most locations, the corridor is more than wide enough to permit both the bikeway and a single-track freight (or commuter rail) ROW. In areas where the ROW is constricted, such as at Arlington Center (20' ROW) and Lexington Center (18' ROW), the bikeway design study suggests that the bikeway rejoin the existing street pattern. This both avoids conflict with other ROW use and increases safety for bikeway users. Of course, some physical separation between uses -- i.e., a fence -- would be required for joint use of the ROW for bikeway and rail freight purposes. Modifications would also be required to bridge structures over roads and streams for safe bikeway usage and access. Joint use issues are discussed in more detail below.


The review of potential alternatives for interim use of the Lexington Branch ROW has identified only two uses that meet the various screening criteria and do not preclude the potential long-term use of the ROW for a Red Line extension. These are continued use of the ROW for rail freight service, as mandated by Court Order, and the development of the proposed Minuteman Bikeway. Since it is possible that both uses may be justified, the potential for joint use of the ROW has been investigated.

Under certain conditions, as described below, it is indeed possible for a commuter bikeway to share the ROW with a single-track rail freight service.

For most of its length, the ROW is 50 to 60 feet wide, providing ample room for separate corridors for a rail line and bikeway. Also, it would be expected that any freight use of the rail line would be fairly infrequent and operated at low speeds. The impact of train operations on bikeway users under these conditions would be minimal, although safety concerns do remain.

Under the general concept of joint use, there are several alternative development scenarios that have varying design and cost consequences for the MBTA and the entities responsible for constructing a bikeway - the MDPW and the local municipalities.

These alternatives depend on the course of action taken by the MBTA with respect to either the reconstruction or abandonment of the Lexington Branch freight line. Possible courses of action include:

    1. The MBTA restores the freight line as soon as Alewife Station and Millbrook Valley Sewer construction operations are completed, in accordance with the standing court order.

    2. The MBTA restores the freight line only as far as Larson's in Arlington, under the assumption that Larson is the only remaining active freight user, and assuming the court agrees to this. The Larson property, however, is currently for sale.

    3. The MBTA returns to court, petitions for and is granted permanent abandonment of the line. Remaining tracks are removed and the tracks removed for construction projects are not replaced. However, the actual track corridor - generally the central portion of the ROW - is reserved for eventual reconstruction of the freight ROW if justified by future demand.

    4. The MBTA returns to court, petitions for and is permanent abandonment of the line. All tracks are removed and the ROW is made available for the Minuteman Bikeway (not joint use).

Each of the first three options would allow some form of joint use with the Minuteman bikeway, as described below. Under option D, permanent abandonment of the ROW for rail freight use, the bikeway would become the sole use of the ROW until such time as future transportation improvements occurs. This is the scenario assumed in the MAPC bikeway study proposal, and the costs estimated by MAPC for bikeway construction - some $1.3 million in 1980 dollars (or an estimated $1.75 million adjusted to 1985 dollars) - are based on this scenario. This cost estimate assumes that the bikeway would take over use of the ROW's existing bridges at road crossings and streams, repairing them as necessary and adapting them to bicycle use. The costs of developing the bikeway under the joint use scenario could be considerably higher.

Consequences of Joint Use - Scenario A

Under this scenario, the rail tracks are restored for the full length of the ROW, approximately 11 miles. The bikeway would be constructed to one side of the track corridor; preliminary study suggests that this would be the north side of the corridor. As shown in the conceptual corridor cross sections, this would require the placement of new fill for certain portions of the ROW and excavation in other areas. The volume of cut and/or fill required varies from location to location, but some earthwork would probably be required along about 20% of the ROW. Including the costs of grading and compaction, this could add as much as one million dollars to the cost of the bikeway.

In addition, the bikeway would require new and independent bridge structures for most of the existing road and stream crossings, since the existing bridges are generally not wide enough to accommodate both the rail freight line and the bikeway with sufficient clearance. Based on recent bid prices for pedestrian bridges of similar design to those that could be used on the bikeway, each such new crossing, with appropriate abutments, could cost $35,000 or more (typical bridge assumed at 8 feet wide by 40 feet long). A major bridge would be required for crossing Route 128. If the cost of this bridge is prohibitively high, the bikeway could terminate in Lexington east of Route 128, or be diverted into Bedford Street (Routes 4/225). A third extra cost item is a chain link fence which would be required for safety, separating the rail line from the bikeway. A 4 to 6 foot chain link fence, running for most of the 11 mile length of the ROW , would cost in the vicinity of $300,000.

There are some cost savings. Under this joint use scenario, it is assumed that the bikeway would leave the rail ROW in Arlington Center and Lexington Center, where the ROW narrows to 20 feet and 18 feet respectively. These widths are too narrow to accommodate both uses. It is also considered appropriate from a safety perspective to reintegrate bicyclists into the main flow of traffic in these busy areas, especially in Arlington Center, rather than setting up potential conflicts between a high-speed bikeway and heavy local pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Since the railroad bridge at Route 128 is too narrow to accommodate both rail and the bikeway, the bikeway would also leave the ROW at Bedford Street and continue into Bedford on Routes 4/225. The cost saving results from the reduction in the amount of bikeway that is constructed where bike traffic uses existing streets - a length reduction of approximately two miles, leaving about eight miles of off-street bikeway.

The net effect of these design modifications - substantial cost increments for grading, bridges, and fencing, offset partially by a reduction in the length of the bikeway - is a cost increase of 50-60% over the MAPC estimate, or a total cost of about $2.8 million and an average cost per mile of $350,000, in 1985 dollars, for an 8 mile bikeway.

Consequences of Joint Use - Scenario B

Under this scenario, the rail freight line would only be retained on the inner portion of the ROW, the four mile segment from Alewife to Larson's in Arlington. For this portion of the ROW, the freight line and bikeway would share the ROW, with the bikeway alignment to the north of the tracks. The design and cost implications for this segment are similar to those in Option A: Earthwork and grading, new bridges and fencing. For the outer portion of the alignment, beyond Larson's, the bikeway would be the sole use of the ROW. The bikeway could therefore take over the pre-graded track alignment and reuse existing bridges. The design and costs of this segment of the bikeway would be comparable to those estimated by MAPC. Total cost for a bikeway constructed under this scenario would be approximately $2,450,000, for an average per mile cost of $240,000, over 10.2 miles.

Consequences of Joint Use - Scenario C

This scenario assumes that, although the MBTA may seek a modification of the Court [Order] requiring replacement of the rail tracks, the track alignment, horizontal and vertical, is kept clear to the maximum extent possible to allow for future restoration of freight service as events warrant. From a joint use perspective, this approach to the preservation of the ROW presents several options for the development of the bikeway.

One possibility is that the bikeway could be constructed on an entirely separate alignment within the ROW, as in Scenario A, for a cost of $2.8 million. As previously described, this represents a 50-60% increase over the cost estimated by MAPC due to the requirement for extensive grading, new bridge structures, and fencing.

A second approach is a hybrid bikeway alignment. Under this concept, the bikeway would be constructed on its own alignment where the cost increment for such construction (over and above the cost for construction in the rail alignment) is small or zero. This would typically be in open, level sections of the ROW. In other sections of the ROW, where extensive grading or earthwork would be required, and particularly at bridges (road and stream crossings) and underpasses, the bikeway would use the rail alignment, as envisioned in the MAPC proposal. As long as as there is no rail service, no fence would be required.

This arrangement would minimize the incremental cost of bikeway construction. It would preserve the availability of the freight alignment for most of its length. The restoration and use of existing bridges and underpasses for the bikeway would also guarantee their upkeep. A scenario under which these structures remain unused and in poor condition might result in an increased temptation to remove them for safety reasons, or to reconstruct them to improve vehicular sight lines and road alignments. In some cases, the latter action - such as reducing the hump of the Park Avenue or Drake Road bridges - would result in insufficient clearances for the operation of rail freight services. No action should be allowed which infringes on clearances required for rail freight operation without the consent of the MBTA.

If the bikeway does use the rail alignment at certain points, however, a problem arises if freight service is restored at a later date. This would require the relocation of the bikeway at those points, and the construction of an independent alignment. Most segments that would have to be constructed are those that have been identified as high cost areas, including bridges and segments requiring extensive grading. The cost of this construction would, furthermore, be in addition to those costs already incurred in bikeway development within the rail alignment.

The advisability of this scenario depends ultimately on an assessment of the likelihood of restoration of rail service. If service restoration is extremely unlikely, this scenario could reduce the cost increment of bikeway construction, and might in fact tend towards Scenario D - bikeway use only until future construction is implemented according to the MBTA's long range plan.

If rail service restoration is considered likely in the near term, then this scenario would seem to be a poor choice; it would be better to construct an independent bikeway.

Nevertheless, this "hybrid" option appears to come the closest to satisfying two of the most compelling needs identified in this study: the need to retain the ROW for future transportation use, and the need to develop the Minuteman Bikeway. Both can be accommodated with a hybrid design, at a cost increment that is relatively modest over the cost of developing the bikeway directly on the track alignment for the full 11 mile length of the ROW.

Federal law (23 USC, 8, 129 (n)) does require that the Secretary of DOT is prohibited from approving a project which results in the destruction of a major route for non­motorized transportation traffic unless such project provides a reasonable alternative route or such a route exists. If the MBTA wishes to restore the ROW for rail use and the bike path is a "major route for non-motorized traffic, the Secretary of DOT cannot approve DOT funds unless an alternative route is provided.” This could be taken to mean that any project to restore freight service that involved relocating portions of the bikeway would have to include funds to construct the relocated portions.


Design Guidelines For Short Term Improvements

In order to accommodate rail use on this corridor several design elements must be maintained during the construction of any joint use facility or any community project involving changes to street crossings of the corridor.


Grades: 1% or Less

Horizontal Clearance

Center of track to center of track: 13’ 0”

Center of track to structure: 12’ 0”

Center of track to far side of service road: 25’ 0”

Center of track to any obstacle: 13’ 0”

Design Guidelines for Long Term Improvements

The anticipated long term improvement for the Lexington Branch ROW is the extension of the Red Line from Alewife Station to the vicinity of Hartwell Avenue. As presently visualized, this facility would be constructed either partly or fully depressed throughout the corridor.

In order to maintain the ROW for its long term transportation use, the MBTA must:



The Lexington Branch ROW Study has been structured to include an opportunity for participation by residents and officials of the four communities sharing the ROW: Cambridge, Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford. Early in the study process, meetings were held with planners in each of the four communities to solicit input on the various issues affecting the study. These meetings dealt with such topics as the bikeway, future freight demand, and suggestions for alternative uses of the ROW.

The planners from each community were also asked to provide the names of other town officials and interested residents to be added to a mailing list that was assembled and used to provide advance notice of public meetings dealing with the study. The mailing list also included individuals identified by the MBTA, EOTC, MDC and MAPC, as having been involved in previous participatory efforts in the Northwest Corridor, and potentially interested in the current study. In all, some 125 individuals are included on the list, which is attached in the Appendix to this report.

The study process involves two pairs of public meetings. The meetings are held in pairs to allow maximum community participation. One meeting, in Arlington, is oriented to Arlington and Cambridge residents; the other, in Lexington, is primarily intended to serve Lexington and Bedford residents. All individuals on the mailing list are notified of both meeting dates to allow for a choice of time as well as location. The first mailing included information on the purpose, background, and scope of the study. The meetings were also publicized in the local newspapers.

The first pair of meetings occurred on June 28 and July 10, 1984, in Arlington and Lexington respectively. Total attendance was approximately 80 people, divided about evenly between the two sessions. At these meetings, the purpose and scope of the project were explained, the study team introduced, and the schedule outlined. Attendees were invited to air their views on the issues involved and to ask questions of the MBTA, represented by Donald Kidston, and the Study team. Notes of these meetings are attached in the Appendix to this report.

The second pair of meetings, to be held in early November, will involve a presentation of the study team's preliminary findings with respect to interim use of the ROW. Draft copies of the report will be made available prior to these meetings for public review at local town offices and libraries. The MBTA and the Study Team will invite public comment on the draft report at these meetings. The final report will address these comments where substantial issues are raised.

Future Use of the Lexington Branch Railroad Right-of-Way

Study Purpose

To assess the long term use of the Lexington Branch Railroad Right-of-Way and the feasibility of short term uses which would be compatible with future goals.

Right-of-Way Present Use

Background/Restraints and Commitments

Program for Mass Transportation, EOTC, 1978

MBTA Loan Grant 1976

Boston & Maine Purchase and Sales-Agreement 1976

Red Line EIS August 1977

Boston & Maine Bankruptcy Court Order as Amended 1983

MBTA/MDC Interagency Agreement - Millbrook Valley Sewer 1982

Arlington Memorandum of Understanding - October 1982

Right-of-Way Potential Use