Town Brook Relocation Project: Improvements to an Urban Waterway

Articles | Nov 2012

Town Brook Relocation Project: Improvements to an Urban Waterway

November 05, 2012  |  Articles
Lauren Gluck, P.W.S.
Senior Environmental Scientist in Pare's Wetlands Group
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Big changes are underway in my hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts.  A $1.6 billion redevelopment of Quincy Center is underway that promises to bring economic growth and aesthetic improvements to the City.  As part of this transformation, the City is restoring a section of the Town Brook, a waterway that currently zig-zags in a 1,700-foot stretch of culvert beneath  downtown Quincy.

Throughout Quincy’s development, the Town Brook was gradually covered by buildings, parking lots, and roads. A culvert was added section by section from the 1890s to the 1970s that directs the brook beneath the City’s downtown. The result is the 1,700 foot culvert comprised of eleven types of conduit.

Existing sections of the Town Brook culvert beneath Quincy Center.

The Town Brook Relocation Project will abandon the existing 1,700 foot culvert system and replace it with a more direct 1,200-foot waterway. Over 200 feet of the new waterway will daylight within a new green space alongside the new Walker Hannon Parkway, allowing the public to enjoy a section of a stream which they may have never known about.

Nine alternative alignments were considered. The existing alignment is shown in brown, and the selected alignment is shown in green. Source: “The New Quincy Center Plan” presentation:

Rerouting the brook will have a number of benefits.  It will provide infrastructure and public safety improvements, allowing the City to replace the old culverts in various stages of deterioration, and will better manage water quality and flooding. Exposing a section of stream will benefit fish and wildlife, including the Rainbow Smelt that travel the waterway each year to spawn. Furthermore, the project will simplify the future redevelopment of the downtown area.

“The restoration of the Town Brook culvert is one of the most meticulously designed, expertly-engineered, and environmentally-beneficial public works projects contemplated anywhere at any time in Massachusetts,” said Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch in a release.

This $15 million dollar project broke ground this past July, and the City aims to complete this project by the end of the year. I look forward to seeing the final product of this unique restoration project.