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Old Rail Line Springing to Life

A rail line serving the Hopedale rail yard that runs through Milford will become active for the first time in a decade.

Correction: the post has been corrected to reflect the direction of travel for the materials being carried by the trains. The trains will arrive in Hopedale from the northern end of the line, at North Grafton.

The tracks are overgrown with weeds and the rail crossings have been removed. But a rail line that crosses through Milford and connects to the Hopedale rail yard will be reactivated this year.

The Marlborough-based Grafton and Upton Railroad has signed a contract wth a bulk goods shipper, which will send 600 boxcars a year initially through Grafton to the Hopedale yard, about one train a day to start, according to a company press release.

The 16-mile rail line passes through Milford and crosses roads at Route 140 (Cape Road), Vernon Street, Depot Street and South Main Street (behind ). Each of those crossings will get a new installation, to replace the crossings that were removed by town officials more than a decade ago. [Editor's note: see attached PDF]

Traffic will be redirected during the work, with the goal of closing each road for a crossing installation for no more than 24 hours, the Grafton and Upton Railroad said, in a news release.

The work will be covered by a $1 million state economic development grant. Any costs on the crossings that exceed that $1 million will be covered by railroad owner Jon Delli Priscoli, according to the release.

The towns removed the rail crossings more than a decade ago, when the rail line stopped sending trains over these sections of track.

State officials who helped secure the grant say the renewed activity in Hopedale is an economic benefit for the area. Officials hope the renewed activity will spur development at the long-vacant Draper Mill, which adjoins the rail yard.

The rail yard in Hopedale is bordered by Hopedale Street and Route 16. Operations at the rail yard are scheduled to begin by Oct. 1. The materials will move into the yard from the North Grafton end, through Upton to Hopedale.

For this reason, Hopedale railroad track crossings will be installed first, beginning in September. Crossings include Green Street, Route 16, Bancroft Park and Freedom Street. The Milford crossings will follow, and are expected to be finished this year, the company said.

Romar Transportation Services, now based at the CSX yard in Allston, is ceasing operations there, according to a release from Grafton and Upton Railroad. A new company will be formed, G&U Logistix, which will operate from the Hopedale facility. Romar Vice President Shaun Keefe will run the new company.

According to railroad officials, the railroad will bring in building materials, palletized fiber, rolled paper and toys and games, which will then be transferred to tractor-trailer trucks and sent out to retailers and wholesalers.

This activity will create about 60 truck trips a day, with 30 heading out of the Hopedale facility, and 30 heading back in. The trucks will access Interstate-495 along two routes, according to Grafton and Upton Railroad spokesman Doug Pizzi.

Trucks heading to I-495 north will leave Hopedale and take Route 16 to Route 140 north, through Milford and Upton, turning north on West Main Street in Upton and using that road to access Hopkinton and I-495.

Trucks heading to I-495 south will leave the Hopedale yard and use Route 16, then turn south on Route 140 and take it to the interstate, Pizzi wrote, in an email.

"The idea here is to stay on state numbered routes and not go through smaller, secondary roads and neighborhoods," Pizzi wrote.

UglyHat August 22, 2012 at 07:10 PM
“Trucks leaving Hopedale will take Route 16 to Route 140 north, through Milford and Upton, turning north on West Main Street in Upton and using that road to access Hopkinton, and then enter I-495 north.” I’m skeptical. Is it really the secondary roads they’re avoiding? A trucking company willing to go 5 miles out of their way… Is this just PR? How long before those trucks are headed up Purchase Street to South Street? Or, could they be dreading the Main Street traffic too?
Mary MacDonald (Editor) August 22, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Hi Ugly Hat, this is what the company says will be the routes for the tractor-trailers. They say they won't be using the secondary roads. One thing to note: the train materials will initially be rolling through Grafton, Upton and Hopedale, to the yard. Not through Milford. I'm going to put a correction on top to reflect that. But the tracks will be improved in Milford, and obviously, with the intention of using them in the future.
UglyHat August 22, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Thanks Mary - I understand that's what they say today. As I said, I'm skeptical. Words are free so why not use the ones that shed the best light. Diesel fuel is not free. It will be interesting to see what route those trucks are taking in 2014.
Amanda coleman August 22, 2012 at 08:22 PM
UglyHat-I agree ,i live on fiske mill rd milford with s curves and blind driveways.shortcut to 495 hopkinton. I doubt like you say theyre going to avoid this secondary road.
Ed Bertorelli August 22, 2012 at 09:48 PM
This is good news for the economy. The Milford connection will make it possible to join the main line to Franklin and the Boston-Providence corridor lines.
UglyHat August 22, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Amanda - I think you'll be okay. That bridge near the gun club will probably restrict truck truck traffic. And Ed - I agree this is good news for the area. Just not sure I'm buying the routes...seems weird to me.
Amanda coleman August 22, 2012 at 11:54 PM
UglyHat - I hope you're right,but i'm starting to get that type of truck traffic sneaking by lately.
Michael F Rossi August 25, 2012 at 10:34 PM
My understanding is that freight-costs for trucking are defined by State-route mileage wherever possible and not on local roads...

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