Update on the Ash Street Sidewalk: News from Traffic & Sidewalk Committee

The Owl spent part of her five-hour layover (!!!) at JFK watching the Traffic & Sidewalk Committee meeting from December 14, 2022. Also eating croissants and bagels, and a fairly good gnocchi. The T&S video is on Weston Media Center’s site here.

While the meeting addressed a range of traffic-y things, the principal focus of Owl interest was on the Ash Street Sidewalk update starting at about 5 minutes. As many residents know, the Ash Street Sidewalk has been on the Sidewalk Master Plan since the creation of the wheel, or around abouts. I would post the link to the Sidewalk Master Plan from the Town of Weston page but it appears the link is broken. I’ll get back on that.

The sidewalk/tree death/crazy expensive configuration proposed at Town Meeting in May 2021 was defeated. There were a number of reasons for the defeat including concern about the loss of a beautiful tree-scape, proximity of pedestrians to traffic in a 40 mph zone, as well as the inclusion of drainage costs for the roadway. The Owl, full disclosure, was one of those who suggested an alternate reality of a path through the woods rather than an asphalt sidewalk.

Since the defeat, many things have happened, including some pro bono work by the Owl in her guise as an actual human being and resident of the town. Note that this guise has also been termed as “That Trails Woman” in a recorded Planning Board meeting. I own that nickname and will shortly copyright it.

In August 2021, after a great deal of research on the history, old proposals, new proposals, etc, I submitted a written report to the Select Board (this would be in the public domain but if you can’t find it, send me a note at thewestonowl@gmail.com and I will send you the pdf) about the existence of an alternate solution. The suggestion I made would be to put the trail on the east side of Ash Street, through the MWRA-owned reservoir property rather than along the privately-owned and now for sale for $38 milion property on the west side. The idea would be to avoid killing large mother trees, and also enjoy the Weston that we know and love: the woods.

As we all know, I am not an engineer of any kind, and therefore this was a sketched-out solution which was sent on to Department of Public Works, where there was undoubtedly “grumbling” about That Trails Woman© being a pain in the kiester. And then everyone quit or retired (fine, I am summarizing the passage of time, but we did lose both Town Engineer Steve Fogg and Assisant Town Engineer Ellie Bahrever) and other stuff happened like priorities (yay Merriam Sidewalk is done!). Now our new town engineer, Jason Lavoie, and (I’m assuming) a team of smart folks have taken up the design again. And I am liking what they’re thinking. [In case, you missed this, I will reiterate that I am speaking subjectively and as a writer of a blog, not an objective media source].

Here’s a screenshot of the current iteration:

You can see on the bottom of Ash Street (what I call the east side or MWRA/Reservoir side), the sidewalk will be extended along the southern part of the road (from about the bridge over the aquaduct) for a distance until it will (squeal of happiness) enter the woods to become a 4 -foot wide packed dirt trail (in green), avoiding cutting big trees (over 12 inches DBH) and wandering through the beautiful MWRA land. The trail will then come back out and cross Ash Street by way of a pedestrian crossing, and spend a bit of paved time on the west side of Ash before meeting up with the Legacy Trail. A woodland wander. A trail of wonder. A happy owl.

The end of the green woods walk, then an asphalt sidewalk until the yellow pedestrian crossing and meeting with Legacy

For a better view of these designs, please watch the video. For unbiased reporting, please start a real newspaper in this town. Or just watch the Traffic & Sidewalk video and form your own opinion.

The new sidewalk configuration is still very much at the design phase, and I much appreciate all the hard work done by our town DPW (and T&S Committee). Meetings will shortly be arranged with the Tree Advisory Group and other stakeholders so surely this will change again. But I love how we’re thinking.


That Trails Woman©

*Photo from Rachel Carson Nature Reserve in Maine. What we could do, Weston…


Leave a Reply