To the Editor:
The proposal to replace a 60-year old, 6-inch gas pipe with a 12-inch pipeline through Hopkinton and Ashland (the Hopkinton to Ashland Transfer Line Replacement Project) has aroused a considerable amount of interest in Ashland while raising little apparent public interest in Hopkinton.
Whereas the existing pipeline easement goes through the yards of some 80 residential parcels in Ashland, only about a dozen Hopkinton parcels are affected, and only one of those has the pipeline easement passing through its landscaped portion, at 95 Frankland Road (on which there are no fences, pools, sheds or swing sets).
The easement passes through the rear of my property at 85 Frankland Road, but it is in the woods and out of sight from the rear of my house, so my concern is limited.
The existing easement parallels Frankland Road from Cross Street easterly for almost 2,000 feet to the Ashland town line, crosses wetlands for at least a third of that distance, and is below standing water (through Hopkinton Area Land Trust property). Construction through this sensitive area will be messy and difficult, but the Hopkinton Conservation Commission is aware and is well in control through its Order of Conditions process.
My concern, however, is in the act of digging a 4-foot deep trench, under water and littered with rocks and boulders, next to an active gas pipeline, with the heavy equipment that will be required within an easement only 30 feet wide. We do not relish an Andover-type catastrophe in East Hopkinton.
The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board has required Eversource to provide a possible alternate route. The alternate, predictably, would relocate the pipeline to the public streets. Nobody wants a years-long trenching project in, for example, Frankland Road, barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other, with no sidewalks and frequent joggers, dog walkers, riders on horseback and occasional skateboarders.
I understand and appreciate the reluctance of Ashland homeowners to have their yards torn up for this project, but for the Hopkinton portion I prefer that the relocation remain within the existing pipeline easement, assuming that the process of construction will be well controlled by the state licensing authorities and Hopkinton’s highly competent Conservation Commission, Building Department and Board of Public Works.
— Robert W. Foster, Hopkinton