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North Adams Conservation Commission OKs Borings for Bike Path
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
01:34AM / Tuesday, December 26, 2017
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The Conservation Commission gave approval for borings to determine the suitability of a boardwalk as part of the Mohawk Bike Path.


Greenman-Pedersen engineers Seth Campbell and Lindsey Barbee presented to the commission.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Conservation Commission last week gave the go-ahead for borings to be taken along the proposed Mohawk Bike Path next month.

Commissioners on Monday determined a negative determination of applicability of the Wetlands Protection Act but set certain conditions to ensure they were aware of actions being taken in the area near Harriman and West Airport.

Engineers from Greenman-Pedersen Inc. of Wilmington, project managers for the 3.5-mile trail that will run from Simonds Road in Williamstown to Harriman & West Airport, said five borings will be done on city property just north of the airport.

"The intent of the borings is to get some subsurface soil and rock information because the proposed Mohawk trail/bicycle path is intended to go over the wetlands rather than create permanent impacts," said GPI engineer Lindsey Barbee. "So we're looking at some type of boardwalk structure."

The City Council last month accepted a 9.6-acre lot owned by Bay Colony LLC that will allow a one-mile city path to piggyback on the 2.5 miles project running through Williamstown. The area in question is an overgrown wetlands bordering a cul de sac to the east and links into the airport property to the south.

Barbee, and colleague Seth Campbell, said the borings would be done by GEI Consultants Inc. of Holyoke, an environmental engineering firm.

"The idea is to complete five borings, 60 foot depth if we can, and a track-mounted drill rig out of Holyoke is going to do that," Barbee said.

Access would be through the airport and she estimated one or two days to do all five borings. The work was expected to occur in January, possibly February, when there was enough snow and cold to alleviate any impact on the area in question.

She did not anticipate using any traction pads because of the winter conditions or hay bales, because those could actually be more disruptive. The spots are flagged and GEI will be escorted to the right locations and tailings will be pushed back or disposed of on airport property, she said in response to questions.

"My biggest thing for this is just making sure they're not tracking east to west ... as opposed to coming out going around the culvert," Chairman Jason Moran said. Barbee said she would make sure that was done.

There would be some clearing of brush but not of significant trees. Rather, it would be downed trees, trees of less than 6 inches in diamater and removal of invasive specials, and done in collaboration with the airport. Moran asked that the clearing be done manually rather than mechanically.

Conditions were set that the city be notified prior to work if traction pads were being used, who was be doing the clearing, and if best management practices were required.

Commissioner Timothy Lescarbeau, also the city's commissioner of public services, anticipated that his department would be involved in any clearing on city property.

"With the little bit of clearing they'd have to do, I don't have an issue with it," he said. "There's lots of invasive species in there."

The $5 million project is at 25 percent design and is expected to be funded in the region's 2019 Transportation Improvement Plan.

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