Upper Charles Trail Project – Part 2: Design Proposal and Potential Impacts | eHop

The Upper Charles Trail Committee has released its proposed route for the Hopkinton portion of the trail in August 2021.

The trail map offered above contains a total of 11 segments which connect Hopkinton State Park and Legacy Farms via Segment 1 to the Upper Charles Trail parking lot on Route 85 at the border of the 3 towns – Hopkinton, Holliston and Milford.

Many “sub-projects” related to the development of these segments are important aspects of the main project and specific segment designs come with their own set of challenges, design considerations and impacts.

A progress report on the project was presented during a public hearing on 8 December.

Upper Charles Trail Committee hears public feedback on trail progress

A few of the segments that have been actively discussed and debated are listed below. They are in different phases of the overall main project.

Campus Trail Connector (segment 5)

“Campus Trail Connector” was proposed by UCTC as a connecting trail for Hopkinton High School, Middle School, Hopkins School and the new Marathon Elementary School. On July 29, 2020, the Upper Charles Trail Committee received an MA Trails grant to undertake engineering studies for the Campus Trail project.

Estimated prices

  • The grant is reserved for engineering studies while the estimated cost is around $1 million.
  • The state is expected to pay about 80% of that with the city match made up of money already spent plus a community preservation allowance.
  • The estimate was developed in a 2016 feasibility study and includes a 40% contingency as well as a 25% MassDOT construction contingency.
  • Design cost estimate is approximately $250,000

Upper Charles Trail Committee Receives $111,000 Campus Trail Connector Grant

Considerations and impacts

  • the Campus Trail Connector would provide easy passage for students, runners, walkers and cyclists between the schools and the downtown area, for a total length of approximately 2.5 miles.
  • The trail would become a major community facility serving the entire city community.
  • Safety and Shared Use of Facilities – In 2019, members of the school community expressed support for the connector along Segment 5. However, the portion of the trail (Segment 6) passing close to the Marathon school has raised issues as the city is considering a new school in this area and there are significant wetlands in the area to consider.

Video source: Aerial view explaining the proposed trail from the Milford lot looking east

EMC Park – Marathon School (Segment 6)

In Segment 6, which includes EMC Park and Marathon School, UCTC aims to conduct the same level of design as Segment 5 and hopes to receive a MassTrails grant in 2022 to do so. This project is also a direct extension of the Campus Trail Connector.

Hayden Rowe Bridge on 85 (segment 9)

VHB Engineering Consultants 2022 Memorandum Update

This memo was originally prepared in draft form in 2016 and has recently been updated for the City’s review. The purpose of this note is to help inform the City in its decision whether or not to proceed with a bridge over Hayden Rowe Street.

Estimated prices

  • The expected cost could be between $1.2M and $2.0M for a bridge structure, construction of roads (bridge approaches and others), relocation of utilities and traffic control.

Considerations and impacts

  • Path approaches would be required to connect any bridge superstructure over Hayden Rowe Street.
  • Acquisition of private property to build approaches could be significant depending on surrounding grades and method of raising road profile to bridge elevation.
  • Land acquisition/permanent easements and temporary easements will be required. (However, property/building moves do not seem necessary)
  • To avoid encroaching on private property, this may require a complete redesign of the street layout.
  • Impacts to utilities including water, sewer, drainage, and overhead utilities such as cable, electricity, etc.
  • The surface water protection zone (Zone A) is located in this area. Coordination with local authority (assumed to be Milford Water District) will be required, due to proximity to Echo Lake.
  • The bridge may need to be entirely in Milford (near the Echo Lake area) to allow the western approach to meet the ADA (American Disabilities Act) as switchbacks are required to access the bridge from the street .
  • Other building permits relating to wetlands must be taken into account.
  • Retaining walls will be required for the approaches to the main bridge superstructure.
  • The height of the shared-use road (surface elevation) above Hayden Rowe Street will need to be a minimum of 17 feet to meet AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials).

UCTC split over trail plan after Hayden Rowe’s ‘realignment’ suggestion
2016 memo by VHB Engineering Consultants
Memo 2020 updated by VHB Engineering Consultants

A alternative route by the Hopkinton Trails Club was later proposed in response to some of the potential drawbacks regarding specific portions of the Upper Charles Trail (segments 5 to 11). These are detailed in Part 3 of the article – ‘A proposal for an alternative path’

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