Iron Horse Preservation Society and Newton DPW worked together to pull the rails and ties out of the roadway at Oak St (between the Depot Café and Jean and Lee’s Kitchen) on July 9th. The road has been temporarily patched with asphalt. All of Oak St. is due to be repaved this fall.
From its start in 1825 in a small village called Street in England, Clarks has grown into one of the world's largest shoe manufacturers. Their corporate office is at 156 Oak Street in Newton Upper Falls. Their donation to Iron Horse Preservation Society resulted in extending the bridge deck over the Charles to the full extent of the MBTA lease. The railing brackets are expected to arrive on Tuesday, with installation of the railings and fencing to follow soon thereafter.
Iron Horse is working to find a vendor who will accept the old railroad ties for disposal. Nine flatbed trucks of ties will be moved out within the next few weeks.
The decking on the Charles River bridge is done. There are custom brackets being fabricated to hold up the railings to match the ones on the bridge over the Charles in Lower Falls. Once these are available, the railings on the bridge will be installed, along with fencing running back from the bridge where the drop-off is steep.
The trail surface has five low wet spots that will receive gravel, then stone dust will be applied, graded, and compacted along the entire length. That will complete Iron Horse’s work, except for the Oak St crossing. When their equipment is removed, the signs, benches and kiosks that Newton Parks and Recreation ordered for the Greenway will be installed. At that point, the basic trail will be done, from the river to Easy St. and with a spur out to Needham St.
Several landlords whose property abuts the Greenway are working with the Upper Falls Greenway group. Their intent is to provide cleanup, plants and flowers on their property to further improve the appearance of the Greenway.
The Greenway project began in late autumn but shut down for the winter once the ground froze up. The Iron Horse crew’s been back on the job in recent weeks and it’s all taking shape. The rails have all been removed. Most of the railroad ties are gone and the crew will probably have the remaining ties near the river removed today or tomorrow.
Next up, is laying out a 90′ x 5′ vegetation border behind the Biltmore restaurant. Once Iron Horse builds the frame, the Biltmore will donate and plant the trees and shrubs and will be tend and care for them.
After that, comes the “Sunset Deck” – where the trail ends at the Charles River they’ll be building a wooden deck at a scenic spot out over the river.
The final part of the project for Iron Horse is to grade the whole trail and then lay down and roll the stone dust path. They say that’s the easiest part. The stone dust trail will run from National Lumber to the Charles River with a spur about halfway down that will lead out to Needham Street
Meanwhile the city’s Parks & Rec Dept have ordered all the extras – signs for Chestnut and Easy St featuring the lovely logo (above) that local designer Heidi Werner donated, benches donated by Northland Development, information kiosks donated by Trip Advisor. Once the trail’s complete the city will install all the extras.
An anonymous donor has funded an effort to beautifully restore two of the old railroad switches and Newton North student have been doing much of the work over the last few months. Once they’re done the city will install these pieces of local history back on the trail.
Lastly, the city is repaving Oak St this month I believe. As part of that job they’ll take care of the Greenway’s Oak St crossing.
It’s all coming together nicely and a big honking Upper Falls party is now being planned for (tentatively) Sunday, June 29 to celebrate the official opening of the Upper Falls Greenway to the public.
Special shout-outs go to Frank Nicols, the city engineer who’s been overseeing the whole project from the start and Carol Schein from Parks & Rec who’s been taking care of myriad details throughout.
Iron Horse is scheduled to resume construction work the week of April 7, lasting approximately three weeks. During that time, they'll take up the remaining ties, haul away all the ties that are stacked up, flatten and compact the bed, and then lay down and compact stone dust along the entire length. We expect work to be completed sometime in May.
Jim Lerner has long been a film buff. A few months ago, Jim decided that it was time to try getting behind the camera. He signed up with NewTV, took a series of free classes to learn the equipment and techniques. He's now shooting a documentary about the Making of the Upper Falls Greenway. In recent weeks he's been doing lots of filming - interviewing participants, filming the construction details, capturing the groundbreaking, etc.
Last week we noticed that there was one very important person in the Making of the Greenway story that was not on Jim's interview list ... so we turned the camera around and interviewed Jim too. Jim's been involved with the project from from the very start.
On Friday, the construction project was officially kicked off with pomp, circumstance and the lifting of the first rail ... and the final ride on the track. Read about it (and see it) here.