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Old 10-09-2013, 06:16 PM   #1
davem
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A navigable Muddy River

So I've seen pictures from ye olde victorian times of people rowing on the Muddy River, usually through the Fens. Going way back, the Muddy was a pretty major transportation link, since the surrounding area was all marsh. With the daylighting happening in Fenway, and an eventual reconstruction around Charlesgate, what would the obstacles be in restoring this ability to say, Jamacia Pond? Could it even happen with all the flood control provisions?
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Old 10-09-2013, 06:46 PM   #2
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: A navigable Muddy River

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Originally Posted by davem View Post
So I've seen pictures from ye olde victorian times of people rowing on the Muddy River, usually through the Fens. Going way back, the Muddy was a pretty major transportation link, since the surrounding area was all marsh. With the daylighting happening in Fenway, and an eventual reconstruction around Charlesgate, what would the obstacles be in restoring this ability to say, Jamacia Pond? Could it even happen with all the flood control provisions?
Probably not with the flood control provisions. Too much has changed with the Charles Basin system since those days. But they definitely need to step it up with the environmental restoration. De-clog the silt, get rid of the invasive species, more aggressively control the erosion. It can certainly become a much more natural stream. Not too much pollution like the Charles. If the top layers of silt all need to be dredged anyway the restoration would start from a clean footprint upstream-to-down.

I'd like to see the Muddy reservation turn a little more into Fresh Pond...an environmental sustainability lab that ends up bringing more true native wildlife into the city. City of Cambridge does amazing work at FP on a low budget, and turned around some of the more desiccated parts of the reservation in short order by getting creative and using sustainable materials. It'd be a big draw if the whole Longwood-JP segment got overturned and started attracting native fishes, plants, birds. Even if it's going to take a lot longer to get the Fens and Bowker-land parts in similar shape.


It's just shocking how bad the MDC was for so many years at things like basic Erosion Control 101 and invasive species. Stuff that's not exactly new science. You can instantly tell ex-MDC land apart from city parks by all the crabgrass, empty fields of goose shit, severe drainage problems, river/stream banks worn to bare clay, craggy unkempt trees, and giant grass clots sticking out of water. Just like you can tell any ex-MDC roadway from a city roadway by the ineptly-timed traffic signals, 'intermittent' narrow sidewalks, and terrifying absence of crosswalk priority.
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Old 12-12-2014, 12:52 PM   #3
davem
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Re: A navigable Muddy River

I'm going to bump this again, because I'm bored.

To start, is it necessary to have floor control on the Muddy any longer, now that the Charles is no longer tidal? I understand that the majority of the Muddy's flow actually goes through a culvert under Brookline Ave, but besides that is it necessary to have it cut off and controlled where it meets the Charles?

If not, then the obstacles I see to allowing rowing down the river are

1) Storrow Drive. It completely cuts off the Muddy from the Charles on the surface.

2) Various bridges, particularly along the Charlesgate. Many are too low for a rower to pass beneath and would have to be raised a bit. This may be more expensive than it is worth.

3) Riverway near Brookline Village. More fill done here. A reworking of the redundant ramps to get onto the parkway could allow the rivers flow to be unobstructed.

4) Entrance to Jamaica Pond. It appears the water flow is controlled from the pond into the muddy. Is this necessary? I know the pond was once a reservoir, but IIRC unlike the Chestnut Hill reservoir, Jamaica Pond is no longer part of the backup system. Correct?


Finally, would this be worth it? It would only be navigable to rowers and tiny powerboats. But, seeing the success of Charles River Canoe & Kayak, as well as the general use of the water in general, it would seem to be a nice nod to the southern neighborhoods if they could take advantage of the water as much as those of us in the west can.



A further thought is that perhaps this should be a general waterways thread. I know we were talking about how not having the Broad Canal stretch up to Mechanics Square any longer is a loss, and I also lament that the South Bay was filled, since I imagine it could be as splendid as the Charles River basin today (would probably need a dam at Dorchester Ave, but still). Instead we have a nasty mall and industrial park. Of course this is all likely water under the bridge (haha!), but it's nice to think about.
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Old 12-12-2014, 03:04 PM   #4
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Re: A navigable Muddy River

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Originally Posted by davem View Post

2) Various bridges, particularly along the Charlesgate. Many are too low for a rower to pass beneath and would have to be raised a bit. This may be more expensive than it is worth.
These notably include the Pike and the Worcester line
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Old 12-12-2014, 04:29 PM   #5
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Re: A navigable Muddy River

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3) Riverway near Brookline Village. More fill done here. A reworking of the redundant ramps to get onto the parkway could allow the rivers flow to be unobstructed.
This would be a massive reworking of the ramps. Plus, the only redundant ramp is the offramp from the Riverway into Brookline Ice & Coal. That ramp is going to be removed sometime soon, but I believe the onramp will remain (and that onramp is not redundant, it gets traffic off of Brookline Ave by bypassing the lights). Dont forget about Route 9 which also obstructs the river... so no way this going to get done.

Quote:
4) Entrance to Jamaica Pond. It appears the water flow is controlled from the pond into the muddy. Is this necessary? I know the pond was once a reservoir, but IIRC unlike the Chestnut Hill reservoir, Jamaica Pond is no longer part of the backup system. Correct?
The surface of the pond is a good 20-30 feet above the river. You'd have all sorts of problems if you just opened it up and let it cascade down into the Muddy. Even in big storms, the walkway gets ripped up down in the Lost Pond as it is, due to torrents of water.

--

I dont know what the deal is with the Charles/Muddy confluence flood control apparatus, but the Muddy floods horrendously and frequently, including this Tuesday (the Landmark Ctr project is addressing this, hopefully effectively).

The best you'd get is discrete segments where boating is allowed. And it would probably be very popular but given the serious shortage of water surface area, you'd have to seriously restrict the number of craft on the water at any given time.... which would drive prices up (it would only be a DCR-licensed vendor, just putting in a public boat ramp would never happen) or make lines terribly long. In short, there's just too many people for too small an area. Sorry to be a downer... I fantasize about it too. An old family friend told me her friends took a canoe under the bridges all the way down the Muddy in the '30s (dont know if the tale was apocryphal or not since Im not sure if that's feasible, even if you lay down in the canoe)//

As for water recreation, I think it would be less unreasonable to allow personal watercraft on Jamaica Pond. It also would probably need to be restricted, but you could only allow JP residents and since city people are usually idiots when it comes to water (some JP resident manages to drown in the pond every other year just illegally swimming), you could only allow those who passed a swimming and boater safety course to use it. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me (Jamaica Pond is DEEP, up to 40-50 feet).
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Old 12-15-2014, 01:51 PM   #6
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Re: A navigable Muddy River

Muddy river, so called was never used for transportation. The title river is a misnomer, and may cause confusion. Muddy river is a very small drainage, and would have been better called a stream. Stony brook certainly drained a much larger area, and had a significantly larger flow.

Both Muddy river and Stony brook emptied into the Charles river estuary. As far as Muddy river goes, once it got around Parker hill, it was simply part of a salt marsh, and it would be difficult to make sense of extending it much further than to the beginning of today's Fens area.

People may have canoed through the Fens to the Charles, but given that it was tidal, the water levels would have fallen quite low twice each day, and would hardly have matched canoeing on the Charles, for instance.

Regarding the flow from Jamaica Pond: There was once a grist mill at the outlet of the pond down to Muddy river. A lawsuit was filed to stop the owner of the mill from lowering the level of the pond too far. Since before the town of West Roxbury was annexed the community had to piped in water, everyone was on well water, and as the pond was drawn down, local wells were drawn down as well. The geology of the area is sand/gravel, with springs running throughout, all connected between the pond and the 'plain' of JP.
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Old 12-15-2014, 02:49 PM   #7
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Re: A navigable Muddy River

For a very cool and uncrowded urban canoe/kayak, go to the Malden River on the border of Medford and Everett. There is a free state ramp behind the station landing parking lot. Tufts and Gentle Giant crew there but otherwise pretty empty. The Mystic is nice too Between Mystic Lakes and the Earhart Dam.
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