Opening the White Cedar Swamp Boardwalk meeting – Image (c) JMcCT, 2017 all rights reserved

By Ron Green

Safety for pedestrians and cyclists traveling along Davis Road is the key theme for the sidewalk/boardwalk proposal by the Transportation Advisory Committee.  The proposal was considered at a town-wide informational meeting held in the Multipurpose Room of Town Hall on November 27. Over forty residents attended the meeting.

Soraya Stevens, Chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee, offered a project overview, and  Lisa Freed, the project’s unofficial Godmother now in her 20th year of advocacy, provided a needs analysis and history. DPW Engineer Adrienne St.John discussed construction details. The presenters and Selectmen liaison Margot Fleischman provided detailed answers to numerous questions.

There is no walkway alongside the White Cedar Swamp on the eastern end of Davis Road, and environmental regulations protecting the vegetation prevent traditional asphalt construction. Additionally, the drop off at the edge of the road renders construction of a typical sidewalk impossible. Ditches filled with poison ivy line both sides of the road. The proposed boardwalk will connect to asphalt sidewalks at each of its ends.

Davis Road in this section is level, narrow and straight. Speeding is a continuing problem.  This stretch of road represents a major safety hazard to students walking or biking to town center. The walkway will provide a much safer trip to  Bedford High School, John Glenn Middle School, and St. Michael’s Church. Construction of a sidewalk will further fulfill Bedford’s commitment to a network of safe walking paths throughout town.

The boardwalk will be about 1800 feet long and six feet wide, with one turn out for resting. Waist high railings on both sides will extend along its length. Pressure treated cedar decking will be affixed to concrete pilings. The decking is expected to last 25 years, and the pilings about 50. A steel guardrail will be installed along the road to prevent vehicles from accidentally damaging the boardwalk.  The walkway will be plowed in the winter.

A cost of construction is estimated at $600k – $800k, considerably higher than a traditional sidewalk.

The proposal will be reviewed during the December 6 meeting of the Capital Expenditures Committee, with final approval at Annual Town Meeting in March 2018. According to this schedule, construction could be completed by Autumn, 2019.

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