The history of the Swampscott Rail Trail project goes back a few decades. See the various steps along the way that have been taken to make this trail a reality.
- 1960s – Marblehead railroad branch shut down
- 1970s – Residents form a Bike Path Committee
- 1999 – The nonprofit SPIRIT (Swampscott Partnership Rails into Trails) is founded
- 2002 – Town Meeting Vote #1 – Town Meeting creates a Rail Trail Study Committee
- 2005 – Town Meeting Vote #2 – Based on the feasibility study by the Rail Trail Study Committee, Town Meeting authorizes a recreational easement along the corridor and creates the Rail Trail Implementation Committee
- 2006 – Town Meeting Vote #3 – Town Meeting confirms the authorization for a recreational easement for the Rail Trail
- 2009 – Town Meeting Vote #4 – Town Meeting further confirms the authorization for a recreational easement for the Rail Trail
- 2013 – The Rail Trail is identified as a priority in the 2013 Open Space & Recreation Plan
- 2014 – Town commences discussions with National Grid representatives
- 2015 – Town continues discussions with National Grid representatives
- 2016 – The Rail Trail is identified as a priority in the new Master Plan; title work is performed for the corridor properties; initial site assessment is performed
- 2017 – Town Meeting Vote #5 – Town Meeting overwhelming approves (by a vote of 210 to 56) a warrant article requesting $850,000 to be used for the design and engineering of the trail location as well as the legal fees and costs for the acquisition of the easement rights. This warrant article was also unanimously sponsored by the Board of Selectmen and supported by the Finance Committee, Capital Improvement Committee, School Committee, Planning Board, Open Space Committee and Conservation Commission.
- 2017 – A group of anti-trail abutters secured signatures in order to require a town-wide vote on whether or not to approve Town Meeting’s overwhelming vote in support of the Rail Trail. The town wide election was held on Thursday, June 29, 2017 and Swampscott re-affirmed the Town Meeting Vote, voting YES by a margin of 12%.
- July 2017 – present – The Town hired engineering firm Stantec to design the trail and work with the newly formed Rail Trail Design and Construction Advisory Committee. The Department of Community Development staff meets with trail neighbors to discuss construction easements and privacy screening.
- June 15, 2020 – Construction begins on the first segment of the Swampscott Rail Trail – from Beach Bluff Avenue to the Marblehead Rail Trail. Construction is completed by June 30th and some additional work on signage and landscaping continues into July 2020.
Photo: Train crosses Maverick Street in Marblehead on its way to Swampscott with a house and Marblehead water tower in the background. Photo credit: Angela Ellis.