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 projects are drainage culvert replacement, a railroad grade crossing update and constructing wetlands as mitigation along the right-of-way. Additional work to replace 4 railroad bridges will begin soon. Construction can bring temporary inconvenience, but this phase is expected to move quickly. MassDOT provides regular updates on this website or you can sign-up for the SCR email updates
Work on the Culvert Replacement Project and in the vicinity of the Tarklin Hill Road Grade Crossing is anticipated to be completed by January 2020.
Phase 1 Construction Update
Location of work:
- Culvert replacements: New Bedford Main Line south of Howland Road in Lakeville and north of the Chace Road Grade Crossing in Freetown
- Tarklin Hill Road Grade Crossing in New Bedford: Grade crossing improvements
Date/time of work:
- Culvert replacements: From 6:00 AM on Thursday, June 13, through 5:00 PM on Monday, June 17 (24 hours a day)
- Tarkiln Hill Road Grade Crossing: Weekdays between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM
Additional culvert replacement dates and times will be announced.
Work zone access:
- Culvert replacements: Construction access will be via rail from behind 65 Chace Road. All work will be performed on the railroad corridor. Material and equipment staging will also occur at the Myricks Street grade crossing in Berkley and equipment will be crossing the Malbone Street grade crossing in Lakeville and the Chace Road grade crossing in Freetown throughout the construction period.
- Culvert replacements: This work will be disruptive to local residents. Crews will be using various pieces of heavy equipment and trucks along the railroad right-of-way. While the project will seek to minimize construction-related impacts to communities, residents will notice noise and work lights along the railroad right-of-way.
- Tarklin Hill Road Grade Crossing: Vehicular and pedestrian access will be maintained through all roadway work zones and access to local businesses will not be impacted.
Background: 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 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.