State makes needed bike path repairs in the State Forest

The contractor removed tree roots that had grown under the bike path along a section of bike path near the West Tisbury-Edgartown Road. — Photo by Susan Safford

For five days in May, D & R Paving, a Boston company under contract to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), made approximately $350,000 in repairs to the shared use paths, also known as bike paths, in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest and to a section of Sanderson Avenue, the road that runs from Barnes Road past the State Forest maintenance barn and the high school out to the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road.

The bike paths had depressions in sections and there were areas where tree roots had grown underneath the pavement, creating dangerous raised areas and cracks. Some of the cracks were the result of seasonal temperature changes, according to John Varkonda, State Forest superintendent.

“It was an end of the year sort of thing, but it worked out,” he said referring to the end of the state’s fiscal year on June 30. “We got some cracks filled and some patching done.”

In addition to the crack repairs, short sections of the bike path were completely rebuilt. Offending roots were removed, and holes were filled. Several layers of asphalt were laid down over a bed of gravel.

“What a nightmare trying to get a contractor and equipment out there on the Vineyard,” said Gerald Moore, DCR project engineer who coordinated the Vineyard work.

When asked if he had tried to hire local contractors, he said they have a contract with D&R for various paving projects. “We sometimes request bids on special projects, but we had room in the D&R contract and we really wanted to get the work done down there,” he said.

“We hope to get back down there with smaller equipment to fix cracks in areas where the equipment wouldn’t fit because of trees.” He said he would not know when that would happen until the bills came in and they could see what was left in the budget. “We would like to do more but we only have a small amount in the budget.”

The DCR is an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs which oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, and dams, in addition to 278 bridges and miles of roadways.

Only the Island bike paths in the State Forest and along State Beach between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown are the responsibility of the DCR. The other bike paths are owned and maintained by the individual towns.