Biking the Boston 'Burbs (Trails, MDC, & Towns beyond Hubway area)

Arlington

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One day, when this is a victim of its own success, I'm hoping they'll throw a bridge across the mouth of the U-shaped inlet.

When the Clippership Connector gets to high enough volumes the "U" will carry traffic to/from Riverside Ave, and the shortcut across its mouth will eliminate a lot of "vehicle miles"

I'm also "shocked/not-shocked" that the nearest abutters haven't asked to be able to open their fence and enter/leave the path to/from their property. I predict, that just like the abutters to the Minuteman in Arlington, after initially opposing the path, they'll eventually find themselves improvising gates and access paths into their properties. I give it 2 years from the date of opening.
 

Arlington

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Storm Grates like this are a super-danger to cyclists and are still widespread. Below follows my "citizens' guide" to getting these corrected.

They "happen" when the square grate is wrongly oriented in the "highway" direction (On interstates, the standard is "bars parallel to the road" partly because bikes and mopeds are illegal on interstates). On any local street, this is super dangerous, but crews often do it out of habit.
This one happens to be opposite 512 S. Border Rd in Winchester, where it will trap any road bike's tires unlucky enough to go across it.
detail view.PNG


CITIZENS GUIDE
1) Figure out location
- what town you're in;
- Note the nearest house address, any cross street
- Find it in Google maps and do a clip picture (that's how I did it, above)
2) Figure out if this is
- Municipal
- DCR (within parks, often "xxx Parkway" or other "....way"
- Mass Highway (numbered routes)...but you have to call the right District Office
3) Find the "Public Works" or "Stormwater" department (or Road Maintenance)
4) Call them. Or use SeeClickFix or other municipal reporting. Do both
5) Praise them when you're done

POLITICAL NOTE
a) I find that Municipal public works staff totally get that this is their wheelhouse. It is an easy problem to understand and already has political support.
b) DCR is tough, but
- Your State Rep considers this constituent service, and can be written directly
- Your State Senator is too busy, but usually has a full time "local issues" / Municipal expert
c) Mass Highway has nothing better to do, maintenance-wise (unless it is snow removal season)

Strangely difficult: when this happens on actual city property, like this one at Medford High, because nobody's sure "whose job it is"
MHS-grate.jpg
 
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fatnoah

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My twelve year old almost had another round of broken arms after ditching his bike in one of these in our neighborhood (side streets) in Winchester. Fortunately just had bruises and scrapes. When our road was repaved recently, I was pleased to see that the grates were replaced with more conventional ones.
 

JeffDowntown

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Is there a general movement/consensus to ban bar grates from municipal, secondary road settings?

Seems that is the only way to fully fix the problem over time. Given a square grate, some fraction of the maintenance crews are going to place them in the hazardous orientation.
 

Arlington

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Is there a general movement/consensus to ban bar grates from municipal, secondary road settings?
Yes! Happily there is a statewide mandate. All new grates must be what are called Cascade grates which have the checkerboard shape and also cannot come loose easily.

We recently discussed this in detail in the Complete Streets thread.

The answer that I have been getting from municipalities is "we will turn it for you for now, if we can and if we cant we will include it in our upcoming procurement for replacement."

All they lack, apparently, is it the desire or resources to do such an inventory proactively, rather than wait for complaints or Street rebuildings.

Hence the need to request action!
 

Arlington

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My twelve year old almost had another round of broken arms after ditching his bike in one of these in our neighborhood (side streets) in Winchester. Fortunately just had bruises and scrapes.
I'm glad he's okay. When you Google this as an issue you see there is a whole personal injury field that is nothing but suing municipalities over these kinds of grates in the wrong orientation (or having shifted and exposing a gap)
When our road was repaved recently, I was pleased to see that the grates were replaced with more conventional ones.
The Winchester DPW is great--very responsive in every dealing I have ever had with them.

I called Winchester DPW first and they looked up the street and sure enough it was a DCR road. They could be of two kinds of assistance to me: they gave me a number at DCR to call but they also said they would call it into the DCR.

I also emailed the woman on state senator Lewis's staff who deals with local issues.
---
In this thread, I am just trying to get out the word that there is a real problem on our streets, and it will get fixed if cyclists take time to alert their local government.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Medfield finally votes yes to proceed with its chunk of rail trail after an in-town clownshow of NIMBY gridlock threatened their time-bombed trail grant. Will, much like the Needham segment, be crippled by a cut at the Dover town line because that town's NIMBY's intentionally punked both their neighbors by signing on for the tri-town trail then pulling out with one finger in the air. And with the alive-again/dead-again now...alive-again?...Millis Industrial Track apparently not passing as quietly into abandonment as betting-odds would've suggested the Medfield-Medway end is going to be waiting some years longer for its infill and eventual (via power line ROW) greater connections to the twin Upper Charles trailheads in Milford. But it's a start, and it puts more pressure on the Dover blockade to atone for their bad-faith behavior since grant money will probably be free-flowing from now on to target their segment.
 

Arlington

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Sen Lewis' office emailed on Friday (and I confirmed by bike ride on Saturday) that the DCR had cured the wrong-way grate by replacing it with the cascade-checkerboard style. This works!
 
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Arlington

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When driving through Clinton, I knew this stone abutment had to be cool, but could not guess its purpose (so I forgot about it)

We were *so crazy high up on the side of the gorge* I couldn't imagine what the stones were for. Now I know, Thanks to this article
This old abandoned train tunnel in Clinton could soon become the crowning jewel of the Mass. Central Rail Trail

If only I'd climbed onto the abutment I'd have seen:


Specifically, the abutment was where a high trestle across the gorge (below) quickly transitioned into the hillside tunnel (above)
(the transition point is immediately off the left in the photo below)
Viewed from the north (downstream on the S. Nashua River), east is on the left and west is on the right:


The Trestle and Tunnel were constructed to Re-Route the Mass Central when the Wachusett Reservoir was built (and the old RR grade was submerged in 1902)

The right of way on the east side of the gorge is being acquired from PanAm for $110k:
The Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust, a non-profit land trust, was recently awarded a $111,920 grant with $67,316 in matching funds that will allow them, along with the town of Clinton, to acquire the abandoned railway section that runs from Route 70 in Clinton to the town of Berlin.

There's no plan to restore the high-trestle (Gold Dashes, below)
From the west, they know they can cross the top of the Wachusett Dam (solid green)
From the east they come from Clinton and through the tunnel (solid green)
The question is how to connect the tunnel to the dam? (orange-red dashes)
Wachusett-Tunnel-Dam.png
 
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The EGE

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Please note: DO NOT enter the tunnel until it is opened as a rail trail. I went in a few years ago to get pictures, and there were cops there within 90 seconds. The local teenagers are fond of drinking and graffitiing, and the state considers it a security risk because of the proximity to the reservoir, so they have cameras up.
 

kjdonovan

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Just did a trip on the Northern Strand Community Path from Everett to Lynn to check on progress.

Starting in Lynn, they are doing finishing touches in a number of sections, pouring concrete for benches and what looks like raised garden beds.

Bridgework is not finished and so there are fenced off areas at a handful of crossings along the Saugus River. Also worth noting none of the "last mile" changes from where the path reaches Market Square all the way to the shoreline have been implemented yet.

Active paving and trail work continues to advance from Lynn into Saugus. Around 3 of the 5 miles of unfinished trail have now been paved. Some additional sections in Saugus have been fully cleared, leveled, staked and are now ready to be paved--crews on-site. The last long stretch to the Saugus/Revere line is just starting to get cleared.

The Revere stretch along the marsh hasn't been touched yet.

In short, you can already see a huge improvement in these sections--particularly in Lynn where it's changed from trash-strewn lots into a beautiful stretch of path. Great add to that community.
 

HenryAlan

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When driving through Clinton, I knew this stone abutment had to be cool, but could not guess its purpose (so I forgot about it)

We were *so crazy high up on the side of the gorge* I couldn't imagine what the stones were for. Now I know, Thanks to this article
This old abandoned train tunnel in Clinton could soon become the crowning jewel of the Mass. Central Rail Trail

If only I'd climbed onto the abutment I'd have seen:


Specifically, the abutment was where a high trestle across the gorge (below) quickly transitioned into the hillside tunnel (above)
(the transition point is immediately off the left in the photo below)
Viewed from the north (downstream on the S. Nashua River), east is on the left and west is on the right:


The Trestle and Tunnel were constructed to Re-Route the Mass Central when the Wachusett Reservoir was built (and the old RR grade was submerged in 1902)

The right of way on the east side of the gorge is being acquired from PanAm for $110k:



There's no plan to restore the high-trestle (Gold Dashes, below)
From the west, they know they can cross the top of the Wachusett Dam (solid green)
From the east they come from Clinton and through the tunnel (solid green)
The question is how to connect the tunnel to the dam? (orange-red dashes)
View attachment 7917
Awesome post, got me to do some research about the Central Mass Railroad. Apologies for the tangent, but one thing I turned up was that Calvin Coolidge commuted by this route from Northampton to Boston when he was governor. Can you imagine being able to commute by rail from the PV to Boston today? Not possible, but apparently it worked just fine 100 years ago.
 

The EGE

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That's a brutal commute - the Central Mass was curvy and slow, with travel time probably in the 3:00 to 3:30 range. Going via Springfield was somewhat faster: the B&A ran 2:20 SPG-BOS by the 1940s, and 2:00 with RDCs in the 1950s; the B&M ran NHT-SPG in 0:30. The B&M could make GFD-BON in 3:00 in the 1940s.

With halfway decent service (ie, if the state stops trying to kill east-west service), you could get to Boston from Greenfield in 3:00, Northampton in 2:30, and Springfield in 2:00. Not likely for daily commuters, but doable for day trips / occasional supercommuters.
 

Arlington

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Did Coolidge have an office railcar? (we're going to move this tangent, if I figure out what it topic is ;-)
 

HenryAlan

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Did Coolidge have an office railcar? (we're going to move this tangent, if I figure out what it topic is ;-)
Yeah, I assume he worked on the train, but also thought perhaps the service was better than what EGE describes. I looked for time tables but couldn't find them, so had no idea it was that slow. Another possibility is that Coolidge maintained a set of rooms in Boston and only commuted weekly. That's the sort of thing that might happen with decent east-west service now, along with the once a week plus WFH crowd.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Yeah, I assume he worked on the train, but also thought perhaps the service was better than what EGE describes. I looked for time tables but couldn't find them, so had no idea it was that slow. Another possibility is that Coolidge maintained a set of rooms in Boston and only commuted weekly. That's the sort of thing that might happen with decent east-west service now, along with the once a week plus WFH crowd.
No...the CM was always sucky. Keep in mind that the mainline was never finished as intended. Their master plan was to tie into Springfield with a straighter cutoff route from Palmer then ride the Central New England RR from West Springfield through the boondocks of far northern CT and Dutchess County, NY to hit the Poughkeepsie Bridge. Prior to the NEC's 1932 electrification you couldn't go through NYC to get to Jersey/Philly/DC because of the steam-electric-steam double-transfer. You had to go around New York to do a one-ticket nonstop.

Therefore there was a great arms race to leverage the Poughkeepsie Bridge (NYNH&H) and either the Erie RR mainline (a.k.a. Port Jervis Line) or NY Central West Side Line (a.k.a. CSX River Line) to hit all the Jersey-side RR+ferry terminals then continue on the southern NEC. The Central Mass was one of the ones trying to alliance its way into breaking big with one of these NYC bypasses. It whiffed when the Palmer-Springfield connector (the Hampden RR) went into receivership before they could lease it. Which in turn tanked the Central New England...which was so rural it had no reason to exist if it wasn't carrying BOS-NJ intercity traffic. That left the CM subsiding on just a couple shitty-schedule Northampton runs on the curve-hosed mainline and the (never all that popular) commuter turns inbound of Clinton. Boston & Maine downgraded it to secondary route so it didn't get the maint standards or modern signaling of the Fitchburg Main, which didn't help with speeds either.

Coolidge using it probably saved the desolate BOS-NTH runs from getting discontinued until after his death.
 

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