Beavers and Heavy Rains Take Bite Out of Trestle Trail Culverts

By ecoRI News staff

COVENTRY, R.I. — The reconstruction of culverts on the western portion of the Trestle Trail is underway, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

Originally built as a railroad in the 1800s, Trestle Trail is currently used for bicycling, horseback riding, hiking, and running. The trail is a combination of paved bikeway and undeveloped walking path that connects to the larger
Washington Secondary Bike Path. A portion of Trestle Trail is just downstream of Carbuncle Pond.

When the railroad was built, 4-foot by 3-foot culverts were installed under the tracks to move the outflow of water from Carbuncle Pond to the Moosup River, which is south and downstream of the culverts. Beavers periodically block these stone culverts, which causes flooding and erosion along the embankments. Over time, the culverts have deteriorated and been compromised by beaver activity and more frequent rainstorms.

The project consists of replacing the two existing granite culverts with a single, open-bottom precast concrete culvert, a design that helps protect the integrity of the natural waterway and wildlife habitats, according to DEM. The top, where the trail is located, will remain compacted gravel; the side slopes will be loamed, seeded, and replanted with native shrubs.

The culvert and trail work are expected to be complete by January, with landscaping and seeding/loaming to follow in early spring 2020. During the reconstruction of the culverts, an undeveloped segment of the Trestle Trail will be closed to the public from the Connecticut Route 14A access area to the Moosup River Bridge, where bridge construction already is occurring. The paved segment of the Trestle Trail, opened in 2014, will not be affected.