MM Extension Surface Study, 2008

Sept 15, 2008, 18 months after $15K was allocated at 2007 Town Meeting for a trail surface study comparison, the consultant (VHB) gave a slide presentation and answered questions at the Selectmen Meeting that night.

The presentation compared asphalt, stone dust, stabilized soil, and gravel surfaces. Comparing cost, durability, weather resistance, users, and containment of toxins, asphalt is the clear winner in all cases:
  • Maintenance costs (over 12 years)
    • Asphalt          $20K
    • Stone Dust    $222K
    • Stabilized Soil $175K
  • Durability
    • Asphalt: most durable
  • Weather Resistance
    • Asphalt: most resistant
  • Users
    • Asphalt: supports the widest range of users
  • Containment of residual rail bed toxins
    • "The more stable the surface, the more competent the containment."
Although based on the above criteria, asphalt would seem to be the obvious choice and the only appropriate surface for the Minute Man Commuter Bikeway "Extension", the Town is likely to accommodate small but vocal groups that prefer a gravel or other soft surface.*

What you can do:
  • Educate your neighbors. Many non-cyclists simply do not appreciate why a smooth, weather resistant, low-maintenance trail is important to most cyclists.
  • Become a Friends Member and join us when we need to advocate at town meetings.


* The people who oppose a trail for all users:
  • often are walkers and prefer not to share the trail with bike commuters, rollerbladers, road (narrow tire) bikes
  • some are recreational cyclists with Mtn bikes who are quite happy that this nice rail trail is inaccessible to others
  • a small, small minority are essentially NIMBY who would like to keep the trail as is - a dirt path for themselves and dog walks.
  • a few don't like the color of asphalt and/or believe it inappropriate aesthetically as a trail
  • although offering no evidence, some suggest it might be harmful to wildlife

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