North Woods Coalition
January 28, 2021
Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Carolyn Dykema have written a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Chief Engineer amplifying HNWC's and Hopkinton's concerns about the I-495/I-90 Interchange Project. We expect more direct engagement around our water quality and noise concerns in the weeks and months ahead:
December 3, 2020
Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Carolyn Dykema have written a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Chief Engineer amplifying HNWC's and Hopkinton's concerns about the I-495/I-90 Interchange Project. We expect more direct engagement around safeguarding our water quality and noise concerns in the weeks and months ahead:
December 3, 2020
The Hopkinton North Woods Coalition's appeal to the Hopkinton Select Board on Tuesday night was a success! The Board agreed to direct Town Counsel and the Town Manager to assist our efforts around all proposals:
SAFEGUARDING WATER QUALITY
HNWC requested that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection require the Mass Department of Transportation to:
1) Add monitoring wells south of I-90. The plan, as proposed, has none there
2) Implement a groundwater surveillance program during and after construction to help identify potential contaminants before they reach our wells
3) Consider a low-salt zone or non-sodium based ice melter around the interchange4) Further scrutinize the proposed drainage basins, especially those closest to our neighborhoods and vernal pool 14, which is adjacent to the I-90 westbound ramp. HNWC does not believe they are adequate to filter the volume of salt and other road chemical runoff, as proposed.
CONSTRUCTION & ROAD NOISE
1) Support for limited (waking hours) construction hours.
2) Advocate for sound barriers. 1981 was the last year one was constructed on I-495! Of the 10 barrier projects proposed on I-90, only two are currently west of Newton. More to come.
FRUIT STREET SAFETY
1) Ensuring Fruit Street remains open to at least one-way traffic throughout the construction project. This is also supported by Fire Chief Steve Slaman.
2) Consider extensions of sidewalks and road striping
The Select Board will also be formally requesting assistance from Senator Spilka's office and the offices of Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren. While this may sound routine, it's actually a rare occurrence, last employed to support the Downtown Revitalization project in 2018.
All in all, it was a great outcome!
Thank you for your continued support.
HNWC to present to Hopkinton Select Board on Tuesday, December 1st at 6:30 pm
November 12, 2020
We will be seeking the Town's support for proposals around safeguarding our water quality, mitigating highway road and construction noise impacts, and improving the safety of Fruit Street.
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +16468769923,,83636274094# or +13017158592,,83636274094#
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 408 638 0968 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1
253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799
Webinar ID: 836 3627 4094
HNWC expresses concerns about the MA Department of Transportation's environmental plan
November 12, 2020
Water Quality- Drinking Well Impacts
As we presented on the Public Hearing (Zoom) call for the Variances request by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, held on October 27, 2020, water quality is one of our major concerns for the project:
It is our understanding that the project proposes more than 11 acres of new impervious area (pavement). This is 11 acres that will increase runoff as well as the discharge of salt, petroleum, brake fluid, engine oil etc.,
potentially including pollutants heavy metals (like lead, cadmium, cyanide and zinc), into the groundwater
and nearby surface waters that feed our wells. Although the project is proposing several infiltration basins,
Mass DEP acknowledged in the Public hearing that these basins do not treat for salt. It is our understanding that these infiltration basins are supposed to naturally filter the various pollutants coming off the interchange pavement and no mechanical type of treatment is being provided. Our concern is that after a few years of being bombarded with the polluted runoff, these systems will become saturated and the soils, plugged with sediment, will no longer function properly.
We are also concerned about the contaminants that will be present during the 6-year project construction
term, and the ongoing effects of pollutants generated by an increase of auto and freight traffic. Freight will be running 24/7 and some will be self-automated. Concerns include run offs due to spills, oil, auto and freight traffic
MassDOT indicated at the public hearing that water quality would be better than it is now, but the original highway was constructed prior to the new water quality regulations. New construction should now required to meet the revised regulations, which better protect groundwater.
We would also appreciate Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's (MassDEP) confirmation that your office's comments to both the DEIR and FEIR were addressed, specifically the project design team’s decision to use a lower runoff (inches) for the 100 yr-24 hr. storm when calculating storm water detention and flood storage. Our concern would be that if the infiltration basins and flood storage are undersized, runoff could spill over the top of outlet structures prior to filtration.
Over the years the interchange has come closer and closer to our neighborhoods, first with the lengthening of the Mass Pike exit ramp to I 495, then with the removal of the toll plaza. Large trees were taken down on both occasions. Then last year, several feet width of large trees were removed along the Mass pike adjacent to Roosevelt Farms, in what we think is in anticipation for this project. The proposed ramp from the Mass Pike to 495, will be pushed 16-20 ft. closer to the area of Roosevelt Farms along Bullmoose and 60-80 ft closer to the area adjacent to the former toll plaza location. These encroachments have two impacts:
1) increasing road noise for area homeowners and
2) reducing the water filtering capability of the critical
terrain between the highway and the aquifers that feed our wells.
The MassDOT Project Manager mentioned the MassDOT Salt Remediation Program at the public hearing. He indicated that he was not aware of any issues as of right now. Unfortunately, there are already two homes in the Huckleberry development whose wells are being treated for salt due to highway runoff. Others installed remediation equipment of their own before the program was introduced. We also know of one pending applicant likely not reflected in the state’s system as of the last public meeting.
Still, we would prefer that after-the-fact remediation efforts not become the norm. MassDOT needs to take
a proactive approach to avoid further well contamination in this strategic corridor that will only see higher
traffic volumes over time. We do not want to wait for our wells to get contaminated, and then try to fix
The Variance application package only identifies potential concerns to public water supply wells. Our 100+ private drinking water wells were not even identified as a concern, even after our numerous public comments through the MEPA process and the MassDOT public hearings. Therefore, we are respectfully requesting MassDEP consider the project be required to implement a detailed groundwater monitoring program to monitor the quality of
runoff and groundwater during and after the interchange project.
We suggest the program include the
sampling of wells at designated homes in our developments, as well as at new monitoring wells to be
installed at key locations between the interchange and our housing developments. This plan should be
started prior to construction in order to establish baseline readings. (Approximately one-third of our Coalition members have tested our wells within the last three years and would be more than happy to share results to assist with establishing the program.) Periodic sampling should then be conducted during construction as well as for several years after construction to identify impacts and if
necessary, take corrective action. This plan should also include clear instructions (contact person etc.) on
the process should our drinking water be impacted.
We would also like MassDEP to consider using non-sodium ice melting agents on the surfaces in and around the interchange.
As also mentioned during the public hearing, we are concerned about the wildlife, wetlands and vernal
pools in the area of the project. Outstanding resource waters such as the Cedar Swamp ACEC, Sudbury
River and Whitehall Brook should be protected from contaminated runoff as well. Vernal Pool (VP-14)
located directly adjacent to I-90 WB ramp, adjacent to Roosevelt Farms is listed as only having a temporary impact. This vernal pool will receive direct runoff from the highway and will have long-term impacts that should be addressed. While property owners have the ability to treat our water systems, if required (not desirable), this is not an option for the environment and wildlife.
Though not directly related to wetlands and resource areas, we are hoping we can bring to MassDEP’s
attention to some of our other concerns regarding the project, such as noise, both during construction and
after construction. As recommended in the MEPA certificate, we are hoping for a commitment that all
construction be conducted during normal working hours so that we are not disturbed at night with loud
construction noise as well as lights. This was an issue a few summers ago when MassDOT removed the
toll plaza adjacent to our developments and worked throughout the night, jackhammering and utilizing
bright construction lighting.
Below is the list of concerns in addition to Water Quality, we presented in both of our comment letters in
response to the DEIR and FEIR. Any assistance MassDEP can provide us in these areas would be greatly
-Highway noise during and after construction
-Air quality during and after construction
-Light pollution during construction
-Fruit Street bridge replacement - emergency access
-Concern for lower Property values
The HNWC appreciates MassDEP's time and consideration. We hope we can count on your support to protect not just our homes but also the lovely environment in our neighborhoods and in the area of this significant project.
HNWC to speak at Hopkinton Select Board Meeting on November 10th, 6-6:30 pm
November 10, 2020
Wilson St.Pierre and Kathy Hervol will be formally requesting the town's assistance in getting noise abatement infrastructure added to the I-495/90 Interchange Improvement Plan during the November 10th Hopkinton Select Board Meeting. A sound barrier was part of the original project plan and later removed. We believe the state's noise assessment failed to account for seasonal factors and also lacked sufficient on-location monitoring to accurately assess impact.
Or regular phone dial-in: 346-248-7799
ID: 848 5261 3046
HNWC to request enhanced storm water plan
October 28, 2020
The HNWC leadership team will be submitting written comments to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection asking for additional enhancements to the Department of Transportation's I-495/90 storm water and environmental impact mitigation plan. The lack of proposed test wells south of I-90 is of particular concern. We believe those are critical to monitoring the early impacts of construction and roadway changes on the aquifers that feed our wells.
Individuals wishing to comment on the project are requested to submit written comments either by mail or by email to the addresses shown below on or before November 17, 2020. Thomas Gruszkos MassDEP, Wetlands and Waterways One Winter Street, 5th Floor Boston, MA 02108 Email: [email protected]
Alert: Important Public Hearing
October 21, 2020
On October 27th there is an opportunity for you to get your concerns around potential well water contamination and lack of highway sound barriers into the public record! The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will be formally requesting that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection override local (Westborough & Hopkinton) regulatory authority in preparation for construction to begin. (This is standard protocol in big construction projects.) Please try to attend and share this information with your neighbors.
The relevant Zoom details are as follows:
The required Public Hearing for this application will be conducted remotely via Zoom on October 27, 2020 at 4:00 PM, To participate in this Remote Public Hearing please use the following link at the scheduled time/date: https://virtualmeeting.link/I495/I90Variancemeeting; or those without a smartphone, tablet or computer, or those having audio trouble may also dial into this Remote Public Hearing by calling: 833-548-0276 and entering Meeting ID: 952 4777 2548, Passcode: 074987
Individuals wishing to comment on the above referenced project are requested to submit written comments either by mail or by email to the addresses shown below on or before November 17, 2020. Thomas Gruszkos MassDEP, Wetlands and Waterways One Winter Street, 5th Floor Boston, MA 02108 Email: [email protected]
HNWC's Official Public Launch
September 23, 2020
HNWC officially launches. Please see our Hopkinton Independent letter-to-the-editor here.
Welcome Hopkinton Meadows!
September 14, 2020
HNWC welcomes the Hopkinton Meadows Homeowners Association. Hopkinton Meadows borders the western approach to the I-90/495 interchange, and homeowners there share our concerns.
Welcome Roosevelt Farms!
August 16, 2020
HNWC leaders met with representatives from the Roosevelt Farms Homeowners Association to discuss areas of mutual concern.
The Roosevelt Farms representatives had already conducted a substantial amount of due diligence on the I-495/I-90 Project, including submitting 14 pages of questions to project planners. The responses to these questions were unsatisfactory and included references to local impact studies that relied on seasonal data points. These seasonal data points failed to capture the full impacts of of highway traffic noise, light, and air pollution on area homeowners. We will be working to together to convince state officials and project planners to conduct an additional study during the period of peak impact (winter).
Roosevelt Farms representatives will also take the lead on monitoring wetlands approvals at area town Conservation Commission meetings. Hopkinton, Southborough, and Westborough all have wetlands areas that will be affected by the project. Construction activities in/around these wetlands have the potential to impact local water quality.
Initial HNWC survey results are in!
August 15, 2020
A big thanks to our neighbors on Huckleberry Road, over 85% of whom responded to our survey on water quality!
Results indicated that only about 20% of us have tested our well water within the last two years. Over the next four months, HNWC will be working to increase that percentage, which will help ensure we have an accurate water quality baseline across the neighborhood. An accurate baseline will enable homeowners to quickly identify potential well water contamination that may result from the abutting I-495/90 interchange construction activity taking place between 2022-2027.
HNWC gets off the ground
July 9, 2020
The Hopkinton North Woods Coalition organizers begin putting ideas into action.