By Mike Gleason, Daily News Staff
BELLINGHAM – For Dave Barber, a trip on Franklin and Bellingham section of the Southern New England Trunkline Trail isn’t just a chance to exercise your legs, it’s an opportunity to glimpse into the past. Barber, a member of the Blackstone River Bikeway Patrol, said he suggested the venue for a ride last Wednesday which was promoted through the Blackstone Heritage Corridor.
During the ride, Barber, a member of the Franklin-Bellingham Rail Trail Committee, pointed out sights along the trail that others might miss. “There’s an area where Railroad Street used to cross the right of way,” he said. “The South Bellingham railroad station used to be there, and there was a trolley
line as well.”
That area leads him to reflect on how much has changed in the past 100 years. “Today, the road is abandoned, the trolley is gone and the station is gone,” he said. “There’s now woods where what was a very busy area.”
“The patrol does a ride every Wednesday night on parts of the greenway between Worcester and Providence,” he said. State-funded work completed in June made larger portions of the trail accessible. “I thought it would be useful to have a ride there.”
Though the recent project did improve the trail, Barber said, there is still work to do. The trail committee has been working for a tunnel to run beneath Franklin’s Prospect Street. Money for the project had been included in a state bill, but Gov. Charlie Baker has not yet released the funds, he said.
“The problem is that you have to climb up (a hill) steeply, cross the road and go down steeply,” he said of the Prospect Street portion of the trail. Should the tunnel go forward it would greatly increase the bikeable section of the local trail.
Barber said he wasn’t sure whether Labor Day weekend would bolster trail use, as it is already well traveled.
“People are using it every daylight hour of every day,” he said.