MassDOT has begun Early Action construction projects on South Coast Rail to prepare for Phase 1 main line rail construction contracts. The first visible active construction project is drainage culvert replacement along the right-of-way.
The work includes drainage culvert repair and replacement, a railroad grade crossing upgrade and constructing wetlands as mitigation along the right-of-way.
Phase 1 Construction Update
MassDOT’s Contractor will perform work on the New Bedford Main Line branch of the Phase 1 corridor between the Galleria Mall and Cotley Street Grade Crossing beginning Thursday, 5/30/19, continuing through Monday, 6/3/19, 24 hours a day until completion. Access to the work zone will be via Cotley Street and from the Galleria Mall parking area and all work will be performed on the railroad corridor. The culvert replacement work is being expedited and will be performed under scheduled extended weekend freight outages because the work requires the tracks to be removed and reset. Regularly scheduled freight trains cannot run along the impacted sections of track during the extended weekend outage.
Crews will be using various pieces of heavy equipment and trucks and neighbors will notice construction crews on the railroad right-of-way and at the Cotley Street grade crossing.
While the project will seek to minimize construction-related impacts to communities, noise and work lights located along the right-of-way and at the culvert sites are to be expected.
All work on the Culvert Replacement Project is anticipated to be completed by January 2020.
Early Action Culvert Construction and Tarkiln Hill Road Grade Crossing
A culvert is an open structure that allows water to pass beneath the railroad tracks. Culverts serve an important purpose as cross-drains for maintaining flow in drainage ditches or stream crossings along the railroad. From Middleborough to New Bedford and Fall River, MassDOT’s Contractor will replace a total of 46 culverts with new precast structures, clean an additional 16 existing culverts, and remove 1 out-of-service culvert. Existing granite culverts are being replaced with new precast concrete structures. The new precast culverts meet the Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards, so most will be large enough for wildlife, including foxes and other small mammals to safely pass through.
As part of the culvert improvements project, MassDOT has been working closely with the City of New Bedford on the Tarkiln Hill Road grade crossing. The crossing will receive critical roadway drainage improvements that are necessary to prepare for follow-on rail construction and future Phase 1 service. The work is being coordinated and scheduled ahead of a City of New Bedford roadway project at King’s Highway.
This project also includes constructing six wetlands impact mitigation areas adjacent to the railroad right-of-way. The original estimate for wetlands impact in the South Coast Region was over 2 acres, but the final design team was able to reduce the impacts to less than a ½-acre. The final mitigation was developed during the state and federal environmental process and specified in the MA Department of Environmental Protection Section 401 Water Quality Certificate issued for the Phase 1 work. As additional project mitigation, MassDOT has agreed to provide excess granite from the old culverts to the MA Division of Marine Fisheries to be repurposed in creating off-shore reefs off Cape Cod to improve fisheries habitat. The total area of wetland mitigation is 1.5 times greater than the impacted area in all of Phase 1, and when completed at the end of 2019, the areas will satisfy the state-regulated wetland impact mitigation requirements for the culvert repair work and all of SCR Phase 1.
The culverts, grade crossing and wetland mitigation work is currently schedule for completion in early 2020.