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.