Southern New England Trunkline Trail
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The Southern New England Trunkline Trail (or SNETT) is a rail trail in Massachusetts. The trail is designated for use by pedestrians, equestrians or non-motorized vehicles. Motor vehicles, including Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) are prohibited on the SNETT. The surface of the trail is gravel ballast.
It occupies an abandoned railroad corridor running for approximately 22 miles (35 km) with an eastern terminus at Union Street in downtown Franklin, Massachusetts and a western terminus at the Connecticut state line in the Douglas State Forest, Douglas, Massachusetts. There the trail continues into Connecticut as the Airline State Park, which extends to East Hampton near the Connecticut River. It is a vital part of the southern New England rail trail system.
Despite its name, the trail does not follow any part of the Southern New England Railway, a railroad intended to run from Palmer, Massachusetts to Providence, whose right-of-way was partially constructed but never completed. Rather, this railroad was built as the Norfolk County Railroad, east of the Blackstone station, and the Southbridge and Blackstone Railroad west of the station to the Connecticut state line. Later, the route became part of the New York and New England Railroad, which was absorbed by the New Haven Railroad.
The trail is discontinuous, as almost all bridges, including those over major rivers, highways, or active rail lines, are unsafe or missing. Some interruptions to the trail are at Massachusetts Route 146, a missing bridge over Route 146A in Uxbridge, and a bridge over the Blackstone River and Rte. 122 in Blackstone, just north of the Rhode Island state line. Additionally, the Triad bridge in Millville over the Blackstone River lacks decking and is closed to travel. In 2013, five bridges in Blackstone that run concurrently with the Blackstone River Greenway were repaired and repainted. These are the two Factory Pond Bridges, the northern Canal Street Bridge, a Blackstone River Bridge, and the St. Paul Street Bridge. It is expected that these bridges will get new decks in 2014. Also in 2014, it is expected that new bridges will be built across Kane Court and Main Street in Blackstone and that a tunnel will be built under Church Street in Blackstone. Further 2014 work is expected to include repair and decking of the Triad bridge and footway resurfacing from St. Paul Street in Blackstone to Rte. 146A in Uxbridge. East of St. Paul Street, Blackstone, the future of the second Canal Street Bridge and the two concrete arch viaducts (one of seven arches) is undecided. All of the trail between the missing Blackstone River and Rte. 122 bridge in Blackstone and Rte. 146A in Uxbridge is part of both the SNETT and the Blackstone River Greenway (formerly the Blackstone River Bikeway).
Between Central Street, Millville, and the Triad Bridges, a short side trail provides access to the Blackstone Canal's Millville Lock, the best preserved on the canal.
East of Blackstone, improvement work is proceeding west from Grove Street in Franklin. East of Grove Street, the ROW is still occupied by a railroad track. At Prospect Street in Franklin, where a former overpass was replaced by a fill, there are plans to build a tunnel under the road. A tunnel is also planned at Rte. 126 in Bellingham when the existing highway overpass is replaced.
The trail was designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1994, having been acquired in 1984 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management.
The trail passes through the following towns in Massachusetts (from west to east).
The trail crosses the following roads at-grade which provide access:
- Route 96, Douglas - parking area
- Southeast Main Street, Douglas
- Yew Street, Douglas
- Franklin Street, Douglas
- Depot Street, Douglas
- Martin Road, Douglas
- Monroe Street, Douglas
- West Street, Uxbridge
- Chocolog Road, Uxbridge
- Route 98, Uxbridge
- Elmwood Avenue, Uxbridge
- Route 146A, Uxbridge - parking
- Central Street, Millville - parking
- Church Street, Blackstone (tunnel planned)
- Old Mendon Street, Blackstone - parking
- Route 122, (Main Street) Blackstone (not at-grade - bridge missing)
- Kane Court, Blackstone (bridge missing)
- Canal Street, Blackstone (on bridge)
- St. Paul Street, Blackstone (on bridge)
- Canal Street, Blackstone (on bridge)
- Mill street, Blackstone (on viaduct, access difficult)
- Castle Hill Way, Blackstone (this street is built on the SNETT)
- Farm Street, Blackstone
- Mendon Road, Bellingham
- Route 126, Bellingham (not at-grade, 126 crosses over on bridge)
- Center Street, Bellingham
- Railroad Street, Bellingham
- Lake Street, Bellingham - parking
- Prospect Street, Franklin - parking
- Spring Street, Franklin - parking
- Grove Street, Franklin - parking (this is the effective east end of the trail)
- Saxson Street, Franklin
- Union Street, Franklin
In addition, the trail is at grade at the former depot site in Blackstone (off of Canal Street) where a parking lot will be built after its current use as a contractor's yard.