23 replies on “Status of Alewife to Brighton Rd bike path?”

  1. The project is, in fact, underway.

    It runs from Brighton Street in Belmont down over the CSO outfall channel near the T parking garage, along the little pond by the T station, over the T station, through Russell field, across Mass Ave and on to Davis Square.

    They have completed work in the segment over the T station and are working on the segment along the little pond, where the path will be cantilevered over the edge to achieve the necessary width.

    The first segment from Belmont, where you haven’t seen progress, has been held up by a need to relocate certain commuter rail cables. The MBTA has to sign off on the work request and for some reason the paperwork has not all been in order. I’ve recently escalated this concern and I understand that progress should be shortly forthcoming.

      1. CSO stands for combined sewage overflow. If you are coming from Belmont on the path, just before you reach the Alewife T station, the path jogs right and then left and comes out on the access road. As it jogs left it goes over a culvert opening immediately next to the parking garage (not the main T parking garage, the private garage opposite the T waiting area). There is a channel (about 5 feet wide with standing water under normal conditions) connecting the culvert opening to the Little River. The Little River becomes the Alewife Brook as it goes under Route 2. If I have my history right, the CSO outfall channel is what remains of the original beginning leg of the Alewife Brook which flowed out of Fresh Pond before the construction projects over the early 20th century.

        The culvert has a warning on it — it discharges sewage during heavy rains. Cambridge is about to spend close to $100 million to reduce frequency of further these discharges.

        In the image derived from Google maps below, the culvert is barely visible. It has this shape, \___/, is circled in red, and appears just above and to the left of the upper left corner of the lower curved building. The Google map already shows the future course of the bikepath, which will require building a bridge over the outfall channel. As David notes below, brush clearing has already started for that.

        1. Will, my nose says that culvert discharges sewage when it isn’t raining, too. I’d love to see that fixed, it cannot be helping.

          1. I’ve noticed that too. Cambridge is about to spend roughly $100 million to reduce sewage overflows in this area. That work will involve storm water drainage swales in the reservation along the route of the future bikepath. The final segments of the path will be constructed by Cambridge after that work is done.

  2. Will (& Gail),

    It’s possible that the bridge part will come shortly; in the last week or two, all the brush has been cleared there, and a large pile of dirt appeared off to the side.

  3. Thanks, Will, for these blogs. With regard to this subject, my resignation has set in completely. I am mourning the dirt path I enjoyed for so many years, trying to remain optimistic that the reconstructed path will allow some of the refreshment and refuge I used to experience on my commute. For now, the poor options from Waverly to Alewife are either Concord Ave under construction, or Winn Brook/CambridgePark Drive, also under construction but at least somewhat distracting in spite of the daily reminder of the Uplands crisis. No signage at Alewife other than the barriers. At least a project billboard and information on alternate routes for cyclists would be nice. Who’s managing the project anyway?

  4. I heard that they stopped work on the bridge since the subsoil was totally different than designed for, and that they will now probably have to drive pilings, i.e., engineering redesign before work can be resumed — big delay. The sighting of the core sampling machine over there seems to support this rumor.

    1. I’ve checked into this issue and yes, the soils have turned out to be softer than test borings suggested. They are in the process of assessing options, but are still hopeful that the project end date will remain the same — May 17, 2012.

  5. Paved — How sweet it is!
    At 3 PM today I rode the newly paved (binder coat for the winter) Belmont section of the Belmont Alewife path (with the OK of the contractor). Very nice!!!

      1. Final completion date for the project remains May 17, 2012. The path is not open. There is still construction going on. And there are uncertainties about the schedule for some segments. But there is dramatic progress.

        1. I realized that when I first read this, I was thinking “next May” but just noticed now that it said 2012, not 2011. Is that right? 2012? Still a year and a half from now?

  6. It’s actually not supposed to fully finished until 2012. There are many pieces to the project and some parts will be done much sooner. Lots of people are sneaking on and enjoying the new segment of 500 yards or so of paved surface at the Belmont end.

    1. It would be helpful to have a more detailed sense of anticipated milestones, rather than just the 5/12 date. Also, that much time overall seems really too long; how can it be *that* big a project? I would like to push to have the path open as bits of it are constructed. For instance, why can’t it be open/used as is for now, while they’re working on the bridge which I understand is kind of off to the side from the current Alewife end of the path?

  7. Bridge work resumed.
    Just had a long talk with Mass DOT engineer on this project. Geotec said go head, so one footing was poured yesterday, currently marking for the other abutment, so the BRIDGE IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING (probably soon, so now we can only blame Cambridge for not working on their connecting segment)!

  8. FAR has been working very hard throughout the Commonwealth to bring sanity and respect for the Alewife Reservation to the attention of Mass DOT with its massacre approach, something we have tried very hard to prevent. We have met regularly with them and with the landscaper. FAR has 40 voiced complaints of of the terrible damage caused by the 30 foot wide clearing on the Brighton Street western end, with false information about the 10foot promised clearing, with no information to any of us about the gigantic wall created because Hill Estates insisted on DOT building in order to give the easement. They must have a huge barrier from the public, and that was granted without any public knowledge.

    Large rare red oak trees for one quarter of a mile were cut and removed quickly, many full grown black cherry trees were eliminated. And worst of all, the extended
    fence may well be blocking a wildlife corridor from Blair Pond to Wellington Brook, over the shoulder of the north side of the pathway. This pathway was also well observed for turtle egg-laying from Wellington and from Little River. The 15 foot wide path with another 15 feet of clearing is not the way to go. Our organization, Friends of Alewife Reservation took over a 100 surveys from bikers before the DOT plan was completed, and there were no more than 2 or 3 BIKERS who wanted asphalt, because it was the only place they could bike where it was natural ground (stone dust) and through the woods, and they did not want the asphalt. FAR stopped advocating for the pervious surface when no one would listen, not the city, conservation commission, DOT. The Cambridge Bike Committee voted to make the surface pervious, to no avail.

    With no respect for the Reservation and that this area is very very different from most bike paths with fox, deer, coyote, fisher, otter, many turtles, mink and fisher, which inhabit this area for many years, as no one cared or wanted it protected, so by default it became a very viable wildlife refuge in the midst of an urban sprawl area. We were gifted and do not know how to respond.

    All we can do is beg Representative Brownsberger to perk up his antenna to respect this wildlife refuge and not let the DOT or even the DCR and city of Cambridge (who are resposible for the rest of the pathway) to do unnecessary bulldozing of our rare and greatly needed cooling area of river, pond, marsh, wetlands and open space between Cambridge and Belmont.

    Ellen Mass
    Friends of Alewife Reservation
    617 415-1884 office
    617 290-4864 cell

    186 Alewife Brook Parkway
    Cambridge, MA. 02138

    1. This all is indeed sad to hear. I would absolutely have hoped for permeable pavement and design to allow for wildlife passage, particularly. The pavement issue may be too late to do anything about, but shouldn’t there be a way to make modest modifications that allow for wildlife corridors? I have certainly appreciated the natural feel of the unpaved path and would hope that as many aspects of that experience can be retained as it is worked on.

      1. In the spring, the state will be spending $25,000 to plant trees and native shrubs along the path where it has been cleared. They had to clear more than they intended during construction because a lot of the bushes were tied together with vines.

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