Yes, we have ramp

The view along the completed ramp looking south (after safety netting was ripped down)

Nearly a year after crews poured the southern anchor of a ramp along the Arlington side of the Alewife Brook, carpenters bridged the last three feet and made a continuous walkway on August 5.

Ramp from the side, with netting.

Last month crews also took some steps to repair the problem-prone path entrance from Cottage Ave.

The ramp, part of the Alewife Greenway project, descends south from Henderson Street just east of where the road crosses the brook into Somerville.

The ramp makes the path accessible at a place where the ground slopes away quite steeply. It is fun to walk on, though I suspect the safety netting was removed by someone other than the construction team.

Pouring concrete on August 5

Also on August 5, another crew set up shop at the foot of Cottage Ave., where there is another entrance to the path several hundred yards south of the big ramp.

The finished product was a new concrete entrance “ramp” to replace the one that had cracked last fall.

New concrete ramp with detectable warning tile inset.

“Ramp” is in quotes because, unfortunately, the object is quite low and flat, despite drainage problems of which the project team is aware. We’ll see how that works out.

The new ramp, really a flat concrete apron, is a near-perfect duplicate of the one it replaces, down to the detectable warning tile.

When workers returned to Cottage Ave. on August 11 to fill in the small gap between the edge of the street and the edge of the ramp, they performed an interesting experiment.

Curb deflects rainwater runoff towards a drainage swale

A bit of asphalt shaped into a curb stretching southeast is all it takes direct nearly all of the rainwater runoff towards the drainage swale. (I took the photo, looking ESE, during a storm on August 16.)

Previously, runoff eroded a great ditch in the stone dust of the entrance path, washed away part of the path, and accumulated in standing puddles to the north and south.

The asphalt is not the final version, more a proof of concept.

I did not think this would work when I saw it dry on August 11, and of course am pleased to be wrong about that. This is not exactly what the project team had specified in their remedy for the drainage problem, but it is close.

Still, the tolerances are very tight for this solution, mere fractions of an inch. What will happen when the drainage pathway becomes obstructed with leaves and other debris? It won’t take much to redirect the flow back along the side of the concrete ramp.

That’s all the construction news for August in the action-packed area near my house, but elsewhere this project is also on the move.

I saw two men working with surveying equipment on the benighted stretch between Broadway and the Henderson Street Bridge in late August. There was also a crew further clearing and pruning there, though I don’t know whether this is prefatory to construction work in that section our just our annual maintenance from the DCR.

Also, there seems to be a lot of boardwalk nearing completion in the Sunnyside section.

Meanwhile The Word on the Street’s foreign bureau (that is, south of Mass. Ave.) reports that work has finally begun on the supports for the boardwalk that will connect the end of the Greenway to the Minuteman Path.

The view north on the path in the waning hours of Irene

No account of the Greenway Project for August would be complete without mention of Tropical Storm Irene.

Our neighborhood has seen much extreme weather in the last year, but this time the woodsy area around the path got off relatively lightly. (Not everyone in our part of town fared so well, however.)

The photo, taken late afternoon on August 28 while the storm was still in progress, shows the path looking north to the new ramp. There’s lots of small stuff stuff down on the path itself. Perhaps the previous bad weather effectively pruned away the vulnerable stuff.

Finally, a bit of the old metal guard rail along the brook north of the Henderson St. Bridge fell down sometime near the end of August.

The metal fence is down in the right foreground of this view north from the Henderson St. Bridge.

This is likely accidental, or it would have been removed.

I don’t know whether the cause was Irene, the 5.9-richter earthquake, or human activity, but that’s the way things stand at the end of the month.

Here’s my first Alewife post, and the one previous to this, and all of them together, most-recent first. For those new in town I will add that this is, appearances notwithstanding, a blog about Mass. Ave. Update: Next exciting installment.


4 comments so far

  1. Andy on

    Nice job of keeping the rest of us up to date, and filling in a few question marks I had.

    • Adam Auster on

      Thank you, Andy! For me, each installment seems to add question marks too.

  2. Douglass Davidoff on

    Thanks for tracking the Alewife Trail, Adam.

    Don’t have a snapshot to send you, but here in your so-called “foreign” reaches south of Mass Ave, the supports for the boardwalk from the end of the Greenway to the Minuteman Trail seemed last week (3 Sept.) to be about two-thirds done. Never has the distance to cross seemed so short, now that the ROW is cleared and so visually appealing. Unfortunately, during the rains, the swampy part was waterlogged so the path to remain dry of foot required climbing a hillside and crossing a lot of fallen trees and bramble. That last ten yards took about five minutes to cross. Needless to say, the boardwalk will be welcome!

    • Adam Auster on

      Doug, so you trekked on regardless, through the muck and the brush? You are as crazy as I.

      It will be good when that part is done. Really, it should have been the priority.

      If you’d like to send me photos I will be pleased to post them.

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