Mass. weighs fixes to Alewife path erosion

Where the Alwife path slopes down north of Mass. Ave., storm waters exposed underlying gravel fill.

Storm waters exposed underlying gravel fill where the Alewife path slopes down north of Mass. Ave.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation is studying steps to prevent future damage to the Alewife Greenway entrance at Cottage Ave. and also plans to repair the path in the wake of last week’s violent storm.

The storm damage, and especially the accumulation of soft stone dust loosened by a flash flood, has rendered parts of the path inaccessible to people with disabilities despite some temporary repairs made on August 5.

Dan Driscoll, the director of recreation and facilities planning for the state Department of Recreation and Conservation, visited Arlington on August 6 to view the damage firsthand with other department staff members.

The flooding tore away some of the stone-dust walking surface of the path, exposing underlying gravel.

Sandy 5

Temporary repairs on August 5 filled path flaws with soft stone dust. Above, Cottage Ave. entrance looking east.

The day before Driscoll’s visit, a DCR work crew removed the stone dust loosened by the storm and applied it, or other stone dust, to the small canyons carved into the path.

Driscoll, however, said a more-complete repair would be required to restore the path fully.

Driscoll and his colleagues also discussed structural changes to the Cottage Ave. entrance that would direct storm-water runoff from the road into the drainage swales and away from the vulnerable path surface.

Driscol believes that the flooding just north of Mass. Ave. was “definitely” made worse by temporary catch basins installed in a double storm drain near the trail head in connection with the Mass. Ave. project.

Alewife trailhead in right background frames storm drains with yellow protectors at lower left. View is NE.

Alewife trail head at back right frames storm drains with yellow protectors at lower left. View is NE.

Mass. Ave. contractor J.H. Lynch installed silt sacks in July to prevent construction debris from flowing into the Alewife Brook and Spy Pond though the storm drains. (Lynch also cleaned out the catch basins for the drain, improving drain performance in some respects.)

The silt sacks are required by the state Department of Transportation.

In the wake of flooding that temporarily closed Mass. Ave. in parts of East Arlington, the contractor removed some of the sacks west of Grafton St. The drains near the Greenway are within the project zone but not currently near debris-producing work.

Tuesday’s fixes, though prompt, were mostly cosmetic. I did not know what further repairs might be planned, if any.

So it’s great that the DCR visited the site, that further repairs are planned, and especially that the entrance from Cottage Ave. may get a permanent design fix to divert the worst of the runoff.

Note: I did not hear any discussion of structural changes to the Greenway at Mass. Ave. I think the DCR feels that further repairs will be sufficient and the events of the storm are unlikely to repeat themselves.

Driscoll and his colleges also said that their agency is working on Mystic River paths that would connect to the Greenway at its northern end and loop back through Charlestown to the Charles River. The DCR has already acquired rights of way for a path connecting the Charles to Fresh Pond in Cambridge.

Although I’ve written before about the construction of the Alewife Greenway near my house, including erosion problems, this is still a blog about Mass. Ave. (In fact the street is really hopping this month.) It’s just a coincidence that there was flooding where the path and the road cross.

My very first Alewife post was in July of 2010, and my most previous one was last week. Update: Next.

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