Rail Trail


Rail trail - Steve Fantone

(Proposed Rail Trail path through Reedy Meadow - Photo courtesy of Steve Fantone)


Project Name:  Wakefield/Lynnfield Rail Trail Extension - Project #607329

Project Manager:  Lisa DeMeo, Lynnfield Town Engineer

This webpage is designed to provide a current status of the Rail Trail project. Below are the relevant elements of this project:

  • Background
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
  • Reports Related to the Design and Permitting Processes
  • Rail Trail Plans
  • Important Links



The proposed Rail Trail is a centrally located, ADA compliant recreational path that will connect many of the landmarks of Lynnfield including Reedy Meadow, the Lynnfield Middle School, the proposed library at Reedy Meadow Golf Course, Bethlehem School at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Lynnfield High School.  It also passes within a quarter mile of the Summer Street School, Lynnfield Town Hall, and the Town’s center commercial district.  The Rail Trail will provide a safe and convenient path for traveling between these locations, walking, jogging, biking or just meeting friends and enjoying the natural beauty of Reedy Meadow.  In effect, this trail will provide an alternative transportation route that connects many of the most frequently accessed destinations in town.

The Lynnfield section of the proposed Rail Trail is a 2.8-mile-long multi-use path and boardwalk extending from Nichols Lane in Peabody through Lynnfield to Fosters Lane in Wakefield.  The Wakefield section will extend an additional 1.6 miles from Fosters Lane to the Galvin Middle School. 

Rail trail map - steve fantone

The Rail Trail corridor is the southern section of the former Newburyport Railroad that once connected Lynnfield to Newburyport.  This corridor connects, via Peabody and Danvers, to the Border to Boston Trail, a proposed, 30-mile rail trail linking eight Essex County communities– Danvers, Wenham, Topsfield, Boxford, Georgetown, Newbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury.

The 25% design process for the project was completed in 2019.  The 75% design is in process and was initiated by the recently hired design consultant, Stantec, in early 2023 under direction of Town Engineer Lisa DeMeo.  The project is currently listed on the State Transportation Improvement Program for funding in 2026. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

When will the Rail Trail be open in Lynnfield? 

State funding for construction of the Rail Trail is currently listed on the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT’s) State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) for Federal Fiscal Years (FFYs) 2023-2027.  The project is identified as the Wakefield / Lynnfield Rail Trail Extension (Project #607329) and is slated for construction funding in 2026.  There is no official schedule for construction of the Rail Trail, but it is estimated that construction will take approximately two years due to restrictions on construction within Reedy Meadow because of the seasonal presence of rare and endangered species.

The Town of Lynnfield recently coordinated with MassDOT and the Town of Wakefield to separate Lynnfield’s section of the Rail Trail from Wakefield’s section.  This separation will enable Lynnfield to proactively manage the design and permitting of the Lynnfield section, using a new design consultant (Stantec) that is dedicated to the design and permitting of the Lynnfield section.  Despite some delay caused by effecting the project separation and retaining a new design consultant, the Town is optimistic that the design and permitting can be completed to support a construction start in 2026 or 2027.  If the permitting process goes smoothly, the Rail Trail may be open in 2028 or 2029.

Why is the design and permitting such a lengthy process?

Since the construction of the Rail Trail will be funded and executed by MassDOT (also using federal funds), the design must be completed by the Town’s design consultant in accordance with all MassDOT and Federal Highway standards.  The design must also receive approval of several regulatory bodies due to the location of the Rail Trail within environmentally sensitive areas (see below).  Design reviews are conducted by MassDOT at various stages including 25% design, 75% design, 100% design, and Plans, Specifications and Estimates (PSE).  The 25% design has already been completed and approved by MassDOT.  After completion of the design and permitting, the project will be publicly advertised for bidding by potential contractors.  MassDOT will select a contractor based on price, qualifications, and experience and will administer construction of the project.

What is the Environmental Permitting that will/has been done during this project and what is the importance of these processes?

Under the new arrangement with MassDOT, the Town of Lynnfield is responsible for the design of 2.8 miles of Rail Trail extending from Fosters Lane in Wakefield to Nichols Lane in Peabody.  Approximately one mile of the Lynnfield section will pass through wetlands, floodplain, and/or rare and endangered species habitat.  Most of this one-mile portion will be designed as an elevated boardwalk.

Wetlands and Waterways Permitting - The project will result in temporary and/or permanent impact to Wetland Resource Areas, subject to jurisdiction under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act.  The project will require filing a Notice of Intent (NOI) Application in Lynnfield and Wakefield for work in and adjacent to the Wetland Resource Areas, a Pre-Construction Notification (PCN) Application with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), and a Water Quality Certification (WQC) with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP). 
The Saugus River and Beaver Dam Brook may be considered navigable nontidal streams by MADEP Waterways, requiring a Waterways License for the construction of the boardwalk over the Saugus River and Beaver Dam Brook in Reedy Meadow in accordance with the Public Waterfront Act (Chapter 91) and the MADEP Waterways Regulations.

Threatened and Endangered Species - Portions of the project will extend through Priority Habitat of Rare Species/Estimated Habitat of Rare Wildlife.  Specifically, Reedy Meadow is known habitat for the following birds that are classified as endangered, threatened, or of special concern:  American Bittern, King Rail and Common Moorhen.  Reedy Meadow is also known habitat for the endangered Glaucous Sedge plant.
The Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) has determined that the proposed project will result in a "take" of state-listed rare birds under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) and will require a Conservation and Management Permit (CMP) that will include habitat mitigation in the form of invasive species management within Reedy Meadow.

Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) – The project will require State Agency Action for issuance of a MADEP WQC and NHESP CMP and will exceed the regulatory thresholds for disturbance of designated Priority Habitat and for wetland impacts, requiring the filing of an Environmental Notification Form (ENF) under MEPA.  Cumulative wetland impacts for the rail trail and for the rare species mitigation will alter more than one acre of wetlands, thereby exceeding the regulatory threshold and requiring the filing of a mandatory Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  The EIR will also be required to address impacts of the project on a nearby Environmental Justice Population in Wakefield.

What is the currently estimated timeline of the design, permitting and construction of the project?

See timeline below. 

Rail Trail progress timeline as of March 2023

Reports Related to the Design and Permitting Processes

Rail Trail Plans

  • 25% Plan Submission to MassDOT (will be available shortly)

Important Links