As I waited at the top of Pond Rd. in Wellesley to turn right onto Rt. 135 going toward Wellesley Square, I got quite an eyeful. Directly in front of me across route 135 dozens of trees, mostly pines, had been cut down and piled up like Christmas trees. These trees, however, hadn’t been set aside to be decorated with tinsel and lights for the holiday season. These trees were downed as part of the MBTA’s Bacon Street Bridge Replacement project, which Town of Wellesley Communications & Project Manager Stephanie Hawkinson noted is in its early phases of construction.
Making my way toward Wellesley Square, I saw that additional trees had been removed on either side of the Bacon St. bridge. Further down still, there was yet another pile of downed trees in the Wellesley College area, across from the Field House.
More on the Bacon Street Bridge project:
The existing steel bridge, which was built in 1911, will be replaced with a new bridge with an expected service life of 75 years. The bridge will have a three-track design that could accommodate future construction of a third track. The project is expected to be completed in Summer 2022.
According to the MBTA, the main reason for removing trees and vegetation on railroad beds is safety. Vegetation can hide train defects from inspectors and lead to equipment breakage, fire potential, and a loss of support when vegetation gets up under tracks and pushes it aside. It can also interfere with engineer visibility,
Wellesley Natural Resources Commission Director Brandon Schmitt understands the need for public transportation safety but says, “I think it’s unfortunate that we seem to keep finding reasons to remove ‘inconvenient’ trees without consideration of the incredible value they provide and a clear plan to replace them.”
Bacon Street Bridge, Wellesley as it looks currently, graffiti, exposed tracks, and all. The MBTA plans to preserve the existing stone abutments. Photo credit: MBTA