New Bridges to Ease Cook Conservation Trails in Lancaster
LANCASTER -- Trips through the Cook Conservation Area are about to become a lot easier for hikers and nature enthusiasts with the construction of two new bridges over the Nashua River’s tributaries.
Work is already underway on two steel bridges anchored by concrete supports that will serve as the two major crossing points of what project coordinator Bill Flynn said has become the most popular recreational area along the Lancaster trails system.
“Since we reopened that area in 2010, it’s become the go-to place for trail visits. Every weekend there are cars parked out there, but we were getting increasingly concerned,” he said.
The 5-mile trail’s two bridges, which had both been built from wood, were falling into disrepair and at risk of collapse. The Friends of the Nashua River, of which Flynn is a member, partnered with a group of students from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and began drawing up a design for the replacement bridges in 2015. Construction officially began this month.
The project has a total cost of $18,000, all of which was paid for through private donations and fundraising.
Flynn said the concrete anchors and steel frame of each bridge are already in place, however he explained that construction likely won’t be completed until some time next spring. The wooden portions that still have to completed will have to be transported to each site -- one located .5 miles from the trailhead, the other 1.5 miles away -- and recent rain and snowfall have made each location difficult to reach.
Though almost exclusively traveled by foot, the new bridges will now be strong enough for vehicles to cross, meaning emergency personnel can more easily enter the conservation area in the event of a rescue effort.
The new structures are the only bridges Flynn said the Friends of the Nashua River plan to add to the conservation area, though he said they also have other future improvements in mind.
“We’re out of the bridge business after this is done, but we’re gradually upgrading the Cook Conservation Area,” he said. “In the next phase, we’ll be looking at improving the parking area.”
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