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.
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 Air Line State Park Trail, 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 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. In a four-year project ending in 2016, 8 bridges and 1 culvert were repaired, replaced, or built, including the Triad bridge in Millville over the Blackstone River and Providence and Worcester Railroad. These are the two Factory Pond Bridges, the northern Canal Street Bridge, a Blackstone River Bridge, and the St. Paul Street Bridge. New bridges were built across Kane Court and Main Street in Blackstone and a tunnel was built under Church Street in Blackstone. The path was resurfaced with asphalt in these 3.5 miles 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 was built at Rte. 126 in Bellingham when the existing highway overpass was 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 following table lists towns that the SNETT passes through and crossings in each town. Towns are listed in west to east order (left to right); crossings are shown in west to east order (top to bottom). The trail crosses the roads at-grade, except as noted, providing access:
|Rte. 96||Parking||West St.||Central St.||Parking||Church St.||Tunnel beneath street||Mendon Rd.||Prospect St.||Parking|
|Southeast Main St.||Chocolog Rd.||Old Mendon St.||Parking||Rte. 126||Not at-grade; Rte. 126 crosses over on bridge||Spring St.||Parking|
|Yew St.||Rte. 98||Rte. 122 (Main St.)||Not at-grade||Center St.||Grove St.||Parking; effective east end of trail|
|Franklin St.||Elmwood Ave.||Kane Court||Not at-grade||Railroad St.||Saxson St.|
|Depot St.||Rte. 146A||Parking||Canal St.||On bridge||Lake St.||Parking||Union St.|
|Martin Rd.||St. Paul St.||On bridge|
|Monroe St.||Canal St.||On bridge|
|Mill St.||On viaduct; access difficult|
|Castle Hill Way||Street built on the SNETT|
In addition, the trail is at grade at the former depot site in Blackstone (off of Canal Street) where a parking lot was built after its use as a contractor's yard.
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