Friday, April 11, 2008
Pathways scheduled to unroll over next three months
“I think that the [pathways] project could be complete by the end of June,” reported Deb Belanger of Palmer Way to the Carlisle Selectman at their meeting this past Tuesday, April 8. Belanger, chair of the Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory (Pathways) Committee, brought up four major topics relating to the project: status of the 18 easements, the budget, construction plans, and the approval process for change orders. Unexpected construction issues and administrative delays may push the project out to July. However, Belanger seemed sure that installation of the pathways should be complete at some point in the summer. Preparation work will begin as soon as Monday.
Roads included in the project primarily include:
• Bedford Road, extending from the town center to Kimball’s (pathway already exists, but most of it is being resurfaced).
• East Street, from the intersection with Bedford Road to Partridge Lane.
• Concord Street, from Church Street to Bingham Road.
• Lowell Street, from the Police Station to Old Morse Trail.
The pathways will not formally intersect; however, pedestrians will find it easy to walk between them. The town common will serve as a central focus to the pathways.
The new pathways will have a “chip and seal” surface. The Carlisle Historical Commission members voted to require the use of the surface, which consists of a combination of small stones and asphalt. One can view an example of such a surface at the Orchard House in Concord.
When asked how soon people could begin walking on pathways with the new surface, Belanger responded that use could begin immediately, adding “It would actually be a good idea if people walked on it.” Parents using light strollers and children on tricycles can also use the pathway; however, heavier recreational vehicles such as horses and speedier ones like bicycles should use off-road trails or streets to avoid damaging the new pathway surface and disrupting pedestrians.
Belanger reported that landowners had signed off on all of the 18 easements encountered by the pathways project with the exception of one, which is pending. The outstanding easement involves the Saint Irene property on East Street. The property, the only one requiring interaction with a large organization, requires extensive legal review by the owner, but Belanger expects the final approval to come in within the next couple of weeks. The easements include ten on Bedford Road, three on East Street, one on Concord Street, and four on Lowell Street.
As part of her presentation, Belanger showed the Selectmen a project binder which includes recording of any issues regarding the pathway easements. Three copies of the binder exist: one for the bike and pedestrian safety committee, one for DPW Supervisor Gary Davis who serves as the pathways project manager, and Allied Paving, the contractor doing the pathways work under the guidance of Bob Joyce, a Lowell Street resident.
Belanger hoped to have the easements accepted by the Selectmen at the meeting in order for the entire project to begin at the same time. As such, she brought along lawyer Jean Donnelly of Tophet Road who volunteered to notarize the final document. However, Carlisle Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie passed on the recommendation from the Carlisle Town Counsel that the easements must be accepted at Town Meeting, scheduled for May 5. Selectman Chair Tim Hult inquired as to the ramifications the delay would have on the project.
“We have a Plan B to get started on work that does not require an easement,” said Belanger. She was confident that the waiting for Town Meeting would not impact the budget or schedule significantly at this time.
Project coming in on budget
Jack Troast, also a volunteer on the Pathways Committee, presented a financial status report. The project looks to come well within the overall $400,000 budget approved by the town, with approximately a $40,000 buffer to cover late-breaking overruns. Although the contractor and project manager know above-ground issues and can budget for them, there are possible underground issues that can emerge, such as unexpected ledge.
The largest unbudgeted difficulty that may impact the budget includes the need for a wooden bridge near 225 Lowell Street. The bridge will span a ditch estimated by Belanger to run 15 feet from bank to bank. The bridge, if built by DPW employees or by volunteers, will not affect the budget at all. However, if the project must rely on outside labor, Belanger estimated a cost of up to $15,000.
Belanger emphasized the importance of good project management to the overall success of the project. She believes it is the only way to ensure “that the project is done right, does not go over budget, and meets expectations.” Belanger referred to a seven-page spreadsheet part of the project binder. She presented one page to the Selectmen to give them an idea of how “we keep track of the work being done.” The page clearly high-lighted the “go” status of overlapping tasks through green color-coding.
Belanger identified the three phases of the project:
1. Put in temporary hay bales and ‘silt’ fences, stake all the pathways, get Historical Commission committed approval for areas under its jurisdiction, and conduct any stone and treework. This phase will start take place as soon as next Monday, and should encompass parts of all four roads within the next two weeks.
2. Excavate and resurface the pathways on all streets involved in the project.
3. Install the second surface with the chip and seal finish.
Belanger expressed concern that given the Selectmen’s biweekly schedule, it might not be feasible to bring them unexpected change-orders required by the contractor and still stay on schedule. The Selectmen discussed the issue, and concurred that by following the standard process of all DPW projects, the town administrator can approve changes up to $5,000. If the town administrator needs advice or the amount exceeds the DPW project figure, she must consult with two Selectmen. Hult said he will be available during the next few months, and several other Selectmen echoed support and availability to follow standard procedure.
Any questions about pathways work may be addressed to the following, by street: Eileen Faber, 1-978-369-6488 (Bedford and Lowell); Karen DiSimone, 1-978-369-1249 (Concord); and Lauren Marshall, 1-978-371-7758 (East) ∆
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