10/24/18 - Phase II Project Update:
The state contractor ET&L has substantially completed approximately 85% of the Phase II Rail Trail, including the section from the central waterfront to the American Yacht Club (AYC) and the section from Joppa Park to Parker Street in Newbury, with the exception of the stretch of riverfront in between Joppa Park and the AYC. The public has been using and enjoying the substantially completed portions of the trail for over a year. The state contractor has a few remaining landscaping and fencing obligations in the substantially completed areas, and then will finalize and turn over maintenance responsibility to the City’s Parks Department.
The fenced-off riverfront section between the AYC and Joppa Park will remain closed to the public, unfortunately, for at least a year due to significant unanticipated changes on the ground and consequent changes in the scope of work necessary for design, permitting, construction, and completion of this critical section of the trail. After additional soil sampling, a finalized soil remediation plan was filed with EPA and DEP for addressing the PCB contamination in a section of trail behind the Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), but as the contractor began to mobilize in 2018 the riverfront was hit by significant storm surge and high tides which caused significant scouring of portions of the shoreline. It was determined that temporary shoreline stabilization needs to be implemented in the scoured areas prior to any remediation work or trail construction, and that a coastal engineer needs to develop a revised plan to raise the trail higher and harden/improve the resiliency of the shoreline to future sea level rise and storm surge. A temporary interim detour plan along Water Street has been developed, including signage and pavement markings and a revised wheelchair ramp and crosswalk. MassDOT has determined that their part of the project will be completed after the interim detour and temporary shoreline stabilization is constructed this fall. While the interim Water Street detour will be functional in the near term to connect the trail, it is not a desirable long-term connection due to the narrowness of the road and sidewalks, the speed and proximity of motor vehicles, and the length of the section. We are in the process of securing additional funding so that the permanent trail can be constructed along the riverfront after the shoreline is temporarily stabilized, a revised design is developed, and the contaminated soils removed.
The remaining steps in the project include:
- managing the finalization of the portions of the trail open to the public and completion of the interim detour;
- managing the time-sensitive temporary shoreline stabilization work to address erosion and scouring and reduce the risk of migration of contaminants, including providing reports to the EPA and DEP;
- installing additional commissioned sculptures;
- hiring a coastal engineer and managing design and permitting for a revised approach that will raise the trail, protect the shoreline, and provide resiliency to future sea level rise and storm surge; and
- bidding and managing the permanent shoreline trail construction project.