03/25/2021   0864s







AN ACT establishing a committee to study rail trail best management practices.


SPONSORS: Rep. Suzanne Smith, Graf. 8; Rep. Weston, Graf. 8; Rep. Gould, Hills. 7


COMMITTEE: Resources, Recreation and Development






This bill establishes a committee to study and develop rail trail best management practices.


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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

03/25/2021   0864s 21-0414





In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty One


AN ACT establishing a committee to study rail trail best management practices.


Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:


1  Findings. The general court finds that:

I.  Many former rail lines were abandoned years ago and appear to be nearly reclaimed by nature. Others have been repurposed as recreational trails which are used by residents and visitors for walking, bicycling, skiing, snowshoeing, as well as for snowmobiles and 4-wheel OHRVs.

II.  In some instances adjacent industrial activities, historic loading practices, leaks during material transfers or storage, and repair activities have contaminated soil with oil or hazardous materials. In addition, residual contamination can often be found along the length of the line, incidental to the maintenance and use of the railway itself.

III. Redevelopment of former rail lines to recreational trails can be accomplished in a way that protects public health and the environment. It requires recognizing potential problems and implementing actions to safeguard nearby residents, workers, and trail users throughout the life of the project.

2  Committee Established.  There is established a committee to study rail trail management practices.

3  Membership and Compensation.

I.  The members of the committee shall be as follows:

(a)  Three members of the house of representatives, at least 2 of whom shall be from the resources, recreation, and development committee, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives.

(b)  One member of the senate, appointed by the president of the senate.

II.  Members of the committee shall receive mileage at the legislative rate when attending to the duties of the committee.

4  Duties.  The committee shall:

I.  Develop best management practices for repurposing former rail beds into rail trails and develop best management practices for maintaining rail trails to reduce or limit exposure of possible contamination to users.

II.  Seek input from state agencies including department of environmental services, department of transportation, and the department of natural and cultural resources, bureau of trails.

III.  Solicit advice and testimony from experts in areas of study including, but not limited to:

(a)  Residual contamination from railroad operations.

(b)  Contamination from other sources.

(c)  Identifying areas of contamination concern.

(d)  Establishing goals of best management practices.

(e)  Pre-and post-construction concerns.

(f)  Fugitive dust.

(g)  Impact on vegetation.

(h)  Impact on abutters.

(i)  Motorized vehicle impact.

(j)  Pedestrian impact.

(k)  Animal impact.

5  Chairperson; Quorum.  The members of the study committee shall elect a chairperson from among the members.  The first meeting of the committee shall be called by the first-named house member.  The first meeting of the committee shall be held within 45 days of the effective date of this section.  Three members of the committee shall constitute a quorum.

6  Report.  The committee shall submit an interim report of its findings and any recommendations for proposed legislation to the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, the house clerk, the senate clerk, the governor, and the state library on or before November 1, 2021 and shall submit a final report on or before November 1, 2022.

7  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.