Half a ramp

Work continued this month on the Alewife Greenway path near my house, specifically on the ramp from the path that will run north to where Henderson Street rises to cross the brook.

Work continued on March 1, its purpose not always clear. Looking north along the Alewife path.

Crews came every day, working intently in the muddy wedge-shape cut (foreground above) they had made in February. At the end of each day things would look a little different, but with a few exceptions not obviously further along.

Imagine that I had enough pictures to make a time-lapse movie of the construction site at the end of each of the work days the first week in March.

You would see the metal support posts shift about mysteriously, rising and falling, swaying too and fro. Different shapes—square brackets, corkscrews, buds—would bloom and fade at their tips.

Sinking another post

Here’s what was going on. A big piece of earth-moving equipment was positioning the metal support posts and driving them into the earth.

World's biggest screwdriver?

I don’t know what you call one of these excavating machines, but it had a cab and boom, like a small steam shovel but with a sort of giant drill bit in place in place of a bucket.

As usual, click on any photo for an enlarged view.

Ready to anchor

Also during the first week: Chainsaws cut away many damaged branches and trees, although there’s a lot more left to cut and to clear.

Winter bar cap

The red plastic caps were removed from the bits of bar sticking up out of the anchor at the southern end of the ramp.

Instead the anchor got a plastic board over the concrete surface and the bar ends got the treatment shown in the photo at right.

Probably there were lots of little preparatory things like that the first week that I missed.

Bolted at last

Things really got rolling during Week 2.

Those 2 x 6s of pressure-treated lumber were finally bolted down for good.

Previously, they had been fitted into one set of brackets after another only to be shifted about.

(Positioning? Trial and error? Druidic ritual?)

Speaking of time-lapse series, here is the ramp being built. The first image is from March 1st.

The view is looking south. Most web browsers will show the date on mouse hover; click for larger view.

Subsequent photos how the progress at the end of every working day, starting March 8.

Once things got rolling, the crew seemed to finish one 10-foot segment every two days: one day to build the frame and another to add the floor.

The floor is of some kind of hardwood.

Along with the frame and floor, there starts to be some bits of railing.

Sometimes weather interferes, but they are out there most days.

At this rate it seems likely that the main body of the ramp, if not all the finish work, will be done by the end of the month.

Here’s the way things stood on March 21, the first day of Spring.

Note the snow.

Worked stopped here until the end of the month,

March 31

and then on March 30 our friend the excavator returned ( a Volvo EC55B, actually), and resumed the work of sinking metal posts.


There has also been more clearing, even felling, of damaged trees.

On March 29 there was a great deal of chopping and chipping on this side of the brook, some of it using this fellow at right to reach the high spots.

Tree hole in the bank, looking NE

Whole trees had fallen and whole stumps were yanked, leaving craters in the bank.

It really was a rough winter.

Though you couldn’t tell from reading this post, this really is a blog about Mass. Ave., and there is a good deal happening on that front in the next few weeks.

But there’s also my previous Alewife post, and from last July is my first post in the series; here is one long backwards mini blog of just the Alewife posts.

Update: And here’s the very next Alewife post.

This must be my longest Alewife post to date. As a reward to those who’ve read this far, here’s one last view north on March 31, of the soon-to-be bridged gap between the ramp (foreground) and Henderson Street (background).

Construction resumed at the end of March after a hiatus.


1 comment so far

  1. Mark Kaepplein on

    What is the expected lifespan for the Greenway? Instead of stainless steel, it looks only galvanized, except possibly the bolts, but not washers on the plastic board.

    What was the life expectancy for the Minuteman? For example, near Pond Lane, soil has washed out under the asphalt and worn footpaths have exposed buried steel debris to trip on. I’m tempted to spray paint them florescent orange for safety…

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