Final Trail Topping installed in Madison and East Haven!

by pbs
April 12, 2012

Last task – to complete the side dressing and shoulder of the  trail in East Haven

“Awesome!” exclaimed  one East Haven homeowner living near the trail yesterday when he saw the newly-finished trail section near the Hoop Pole Lane trailhead. He ran for his bike to take his first ride on the completed trail!

Jack Woods, chair of our Trail Development Team, is thrilled to announce that after a three-year search, Shoreline Greenway Trail selected our own local Stony Creek Quarry in Branford as the supplier of our crushed granite stone topping material. And, we hired professional trail designer/builder/educator Josh Ryan, owner of Timber and Stone LLC from Central Vermont, to do the work!

Josh Ryan, professional trail builder

Josh, a life-long hiker, has twelve years of experience building sustainable bike trails that blend in with their surroundings, that are aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sensitive. We observed first-hand his impressive trail work using a granite topping mixture on four miles of trail for the town of Wolfboro, New Hampshire.

These first two weeks of April, Josh and his three-person crew have been installing the final topping on 1700 feet of trail  in Madison at Hammonasset, and 1200 feet of trail in East Haven at their Trailhead entrance off Mansfield Grove Road. In the fall, Josh’s team will install final topping on trail sections in Branford.

Kiteri compacts the topping with a mini-roller

They have good topping material to work with. For the past three years, Jack, a retired engineer, diligently searched different quarries state-wide, comparing and testing stone mixtures for the best result.

Toppings before spreading along trail in East Haven

The Stony Creek gradation mixture met all the engineering standards established by several experts Jack consulted with, including University of Pennsylvania, Acadia National Park and American Trails Association. The unique light-color Stony Creek granite will enhance the appearance of our Trail. And we are able to avoid long hauling costs, an important factor.

The work of laying the final topping over the rough gravel base layer is a complex process.  It involves a few expert workers,  a special mechanical Ditch Witch digger,

Josh’s crew guiding the DitchWitch

a trail-building hauler to disperse the crushed stone and topsoil for side dressing, a roller compacter, and finally, rain.  Water is critical to thoroughly wet and settle the new 7-9” of topping before compacting, to make the surface firm enough for bicycles and strollers.

The current drought presents a huge challenge.  Undaunted, Jack has found water trucks to substitute temporarily, chalking it up to just one of many struggles and setbacks we have managed to conquer over these past 10 years.

Stop by and walk or bike  these awesome new trail sections! And special thanks to an anonymous East Haven homeowner who left a box of fresh donuts on the roller machine to greet the crew one morning, her ‘thank-you’ to Shoreline Greenway Trail!

The new trail surface in use at Hammonasset