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Massachusetts DOT seeks Corps permit to place fill for recreational trail in Westford, Carlisle, and Acton

Published June 10, 2014

CONCORD, Mass. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation – Highway Division (MassDOT) is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with discharging fill material to construct a recreational trail in Westford, Carlisle and Acton, Mass.


The work is proposed in Nashoba Brook and various unnamed waters of the U.S., including wetlands, along a 4.88-mile-long section of abandoned railroad line in Westford, Carlisle and Acton, beginning at the intersection of Routes 27 and 225 in Westford, and ending approximately 1,000 feet south of Wetherbee Street in Acton. All of the proposed impacts to waters of the U.S. are in Acton.


Although this project may have only minimal impacts and may be eligible for authorization under the current Massachusetts General Permit, the work is not expected to begin until after the General Permit expires on Jan. 20, 2015.  The applicant is seeking an individual permit to allow for a full five years in which to complete the work.


The proposed work involves the discharge of 4,627 square feet of fill material into Nashoba Brook and various unnamed waters of the U.S. associated with the construction of Phase 2A of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, a multi-use recreational trail along the former Lowell Secondary railroad line in Westford, Carlisle and Acton. The purpose of the work is to provide a public recreational amenity by extending the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail from the terminus of the completed Phase 1 in Westford through Carlisle and into Acton.


Section 404 fills would result from: construction of a 4.88-mile section of paved, variable-width, multi-use trail, primarily along the abandoned railroad bed; construction of a pedestrian bridge over Route 2A/119; construction of a parking area with trail access ramp; repair and rehabilitation of existing culverts and associated headwalls; and construction of a wildlife crossing structure. The proposed work also includes the rehabilitation of six existing railroad trestle bridges and the construction of a six-foot wide stone dust trail adjacent to the paved trail where feasible.


Of the total 4,627 square feet of impact, 1,845 square feet would be permanent, and 2,782 square feet would be temporary. Permanent impacts would result primarily from grading associated with trail construction, grading for the parking area access ramp, and construction of the pedestrian bridge over Route 2A/119. Temporary impacts would result primarily from culvert and headwall repair and rehabilitation activities and temporary access to the work areas.

The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps of Engineers in compliance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands.  The public notice, with more specifics on the proposed work, can be viewed on the Corps website at:  http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.


Public comments on this proposed work by the Massachusetts DOT (file #NAE-2014-00816) should be forwarded no later than July 10, 2014 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN:  Dan Vasconcelos), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA  01742-2751.  Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Dan Vasconcelos at 978-318-8653 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: daniel.b.vasconcelos@usace.army.mil.


Tim Dugan

Release no. 2014-076