Trails Committee Discusses Recent Flooding on the Rail Trail

The Holliston Trails Committee met recently. Chair Robert Weidknecht called the remote meeting to order at 7:00pm.  Several items were on the committee’s monthly agenda.  Three requests for rail trail improvements from the ARPA funds designated to Holliston were discussed and will be used to illustrate the how requests flow through the Town’s approval / deferral process.

Trails Committee members: (L-R) Bud Schmitt, Herb Brockert, Chair Weidknecht, Martha Ellis, and Mark Kaplan convened to discuss all things rail trail related.  First up was an update from Troop 14 Boy Scout Eddie Bombardieri (below).

Bombardieri’s project entails the installation of a new picnic table along the Upper Charles Rail Trail.  He alerted the committee to the need for some site work needed to prepare for the table.  Herb Brockert handled the base prep on Wednesday, August 25th so that Eddie and his crew could install the table in the coming weekend.

Recent torrential rains have highlighted the need to improve drainage along the trail – especially in the Phipps Tunnel area.  The Committee has received one quote to blow out debris from inside the drainage pipes within the tunnel.  Chair Weidknecht will pursue with further bids are needed in this procurement.

Next up was the presentation of three requests for ARPA funds to improve the infrastructure and safety of the rail trail.  Not surprisingly, the first two pertained to improved drainage on the north (toward town) side of the tunnel.  One project would install drainage pipes in the ditches (with suitable dredging) from the tunnel to where they go under a granite culvert near Little Folks’ Farm.  In addition to keeping the ditches free of leaves and debris, this would allow the trail to be widened to its normal 12-foot width.  Another drainage project would capture effluent from four drainpipes that currently discharge along the west bank of the trail.  The discharge would flow through new piping directly into the drainage pipes. This would reduce future flooding and control erosion on the very steep slope.  The Committee unanimously approved these two requests totaling about $78,000 for ARPA funding for improved drainage and preservation of this Town asset.

The third request was to upgrade five existing rapid-flashing crossing beacons: Washington, Lowland, Central, Summer, and South Streets.  Rather than requiring a button to be pushed, these beacons would now be presence (motion) sensing – thus activating the beacons as users approach.  With the increased usage on the trail, especially since March 2020, such a precaution could prevent future accidents / near misses as the trail crosses busy thoroughfares.  The Committee approved this $34,730 request.

Herb Brockert and Martha Ellis represent the Trails Committee on the Blair Square Committee.  They updated their colleagues on the status of the Blair Square design and construction plan which they described as 90% done.  The most current plan includes: a shelter, a pervious paved area, seating on stones, and a veterans’ reflection area near Vine Street (construction has begun by the vets and the monument was greatly aided by a $30,000 earmark in the State budget thanks to Representative Dykema).  Herb added that Steve Napolitano is still trying to get all the names that served during Iraq / Afghanistan.  If you served during that period, dig out your DD-214 (discharge) and contact Steve via the monument website.

The trail maintenance crew has been busy throughout the Summer cutting back the underbrush that can’t stop encroaching onto and over the trail surface.  Many thanks to the DPW from the Committee for letting Herb handle the department’s brush whacking machines.

Martha Ellis (former Citizen of the Year) alerted the Committee that Celebrate Holliston will take place on Saturday, September 18, 2021.  A scaled down event is planned that will close Central Street from Blair Square to Washington until 3:00 pm that day.

The Committee will next meet on September 22, 2021 at 7:00pm.  This meeting adjourned at 8:15pm.

Chris Cain

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