Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Field Walk with Eversource - Restoration Tasks

The Trails Committee had a field walk with Eversource representatives to confirm restoration measures by Eversource on the portions of Shelton's open space and greenways that were disturbed during their construction.  Eversource is completing most of their new transmission line construction in the south end of Shelton.

Here we are north of Derby Junction at the Maybeck Open Space.  It was a big group; the Eversource team outnumbered us 9 to 7, like earlier meetings.  We covered a lot of ground from north of Constitution Boulevard North down toward Buddington Road.  

Eversource has finished their work here and said they will remove the timber platforms placed over the wetlands and allow the area to re-vegetate naturally.  The crushed stone roads will be feathered back down to match existing grades so we can maintain some areas with our newly-repaired Gator and mower. 


We requested that they replace stone wall boulders where the stone walls were broken to create construction accesses, so that dumping and ATV's do not damage the open space.  We think that they agreed to that, but it was tough to tell sometimes.  It was not clear which members of the Eversource team were deciding on which issues at times.

This is one of the areas along the Paugussett Trail that we have not been able to maintain well this summer due to the powerline construction.  These timbers are to be removed over the next couple of months.

We then went south to Wellington Court and reviewed the construction and Paugussett Trail restoration there.

At Independence Drive we had a long discussion about reducing the access road widths, and regrading where Eversource has raised the grade, sometimes by several feet, at existing trail junctions.  The roads need to remain in place while they complete demolition of the existing transmission towers, but we did not think they needed to be as wide as they are now that construction is completed.  Eversource may add a gate on the north side of Independence to control dumping.  The gate on the south side of Independence Drive will be restored.

Finer material will be added over the top of the crushed stone roads to remain so it's not a tripping hazard to hikers and bikers.  The tower pads will also be covered with compost and be seeded with a native wildflower meadow mix to make the pads and roadways look less industrial.

Going up the steep roads South of Independence Drive they will add a number of waterbars to divert runoff from the road and prevent erosion.  We asked that the sides of the roads be composted and seeded to reduce the visual impact from City streets.  We'll see what they do.

We also discussed restoring the disturbed areas to lessen the visual impact from City open spaces.  The haul roads were a special area of concern, as was the view of the large crushed stone pads around the towers on the City-owned property.

We went over to Rt. 108 and reviewed the Turkey Trot Trail, Paugussett Trail, and restoration of the old timber bridge crossing the brook.  We explained that this was a busy area in the summer with a lot of public use along the trails and the haul roads by hikers, bikers, and the cross country track teams.  We asked that the roads be grading down at the bridge so we can drive our Gator over it again to mow the roads and trails for trail users. 

It sounds like they will be seeding by the end of the September, which will help prevent the spread of invasive plant species in the disturbed areas.  Cutting invasive plants is turning into a major task for trail volunteers, and we didn't want to see it get worse following Eversource's construction.

Ellen, Val, and Bill were going over restoration of the drilling debris and haul roads following demolition removal.  We also requested clean up of the fill piles from blasting and foundation work, narrowing of the haul roads, composting and seeding of the disturbed areas.  Eversource said they would seed once in the fall and come back and reseed bare areas in the spring.   Hopefully this is enough to stabilize all the disturbed areas on City open space.

We then went south of Rt. 108 and looked at restoration of the junctions with Oak Valley Trail.  The issues there were the same; regrading filled areas, removal of timber platforms, composting and seeding, narrowing haul roads, resetting our trail kiosk, restoring visual impact from roads and open spaces, etc.  Eversource volunteered to add a 4x4 sign post at the junction of Oak Valley Trail and their haul road.  The issue there is that their roads are now so big that some of the public may follow the roads rather than the trails by mistake.

We then went down to Great Ledge at the end of Oak Valley Road to go over restoration of the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path.  This is our main handicapped accessible multi-use path that was damaged by the haul road construction.  We requested that it be regraded going between the monopoles, left at 12' wide with shoulders along the wetlands, and topped with the 3"-4" layer of the 3/8" minus fine crushed stone mix.  

Eversource will remove the timber platforms and haul roads from the wetlands, but they do not propose any seeding or plant restoration in Spooner Swamp or the wetlands near Great Ledge.  

Bill, Bob, and Mike wore modeling the latest in Eversource safety vests.  The neighbors were probably enjoying the high visibility gang walking up and down the powerlines.  Nobody was lost during the field walk.

There was a lot of disruption to the mountain laurel and swamps further south along Nells Loop Trail.  We requested that the gravel haul roads be covered with compost and seeded following removal of the timber platforms to stabilize the area and reduce the visual impacts on City open space.  We think they agreed to this, but it was tough to tell with so many people on the field walk - we'll see.

The last remains of one of the former towers that marked our trail coming out across the powerlines.  Eversource crews are cleaning these up as they work their way north.

The Nells Loop Trail crossing coming out onto the powerlines.

Teresa pointing out a possible re-route for the Paugussett Trail.  These are some of the big bridges and haul roads to be removed and restored in and around the wetlands.

Teresa and Ellen as we worked our way out thru Spooner Swamp.  The timber matting is to be removed by Eversource.

Eversource demolishing the old towers and foundations along Oak Valley Road as we were leaving.

Eversource said that they anticipated completion of this southern area by end of September - give or take a little.  Work on the northern area of town near the French's Hill Open Space will continue through the winter into Spring 2024.

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