By Molly Bronner
FRAMINGHAM – The City of Framingham recently evaluated all city-owned culverts, to determine the condition of each and form a plan to extend their usage.
There are 98 culverts in Framingham. A culvert is “a tunnel carrying a stream or open drain
under a road or railroad” as defined by Oxford Languages.
The culverts throughout the city range in age from 5 to 100 years.
The City found 9 of the culverts to be in critical condition.
The City identified 33 to be in poor condition, with 56 culverts to be satisfactory.
Hartford Street’s culvert ranked highest on their scale with a risk score of 88.
The City’s main focus is now directed towards the 9 culverts in critical condition, specifically
those ranking in the top five.
The City used a modified version of the 2017 Culvert Condition Assessment Manual from the
Nature Conservatory at UMass Amherst and the MobileVUE app in order to approach the task of evaluating each culvert. The manual provided the team with a list of key factors to identify in each culvert, which they could then mark using the app.
Once this data was collected, those numbers were then translated over into risk scores.
Each criteria was weighted differently and all collectively totaled up to a score between 0 and 100, with 100 meaning it is at the highest risk of failure.
“Our risk scoring results show it’s valuable to address the culverts of the highest risk and work
down the list to reduce the chances of culvert failures,” said Kelly Siry, the Water Resources
Specialist at VHB, during a meeting last month.
These risk scores could then be translated over into a map and chart that allowed for easy
comparison of the culverts around the city, explained Framingham Project Manager Matthew Hayes.
The City of Framingham will seek grants for the culvert repairs, with the rest of the funding coming from the City’s general fund.
Culvert failure can cause flooding, damaged utilities, collapsed roadways, and other serious
issues, explained the experts in the meeting.
“Understanding culvert conditions helps the City develop inspection and maintenance plans to
prevent further failures down the road,” Siry said.
The current culvert repair plan will take place over the course of 5 years and focus on the 5 culverts in the most critical condition.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced a municipal culvert grant program earlier this year but the deadline to apply was March 18, 2021. Up to $200,000 was available for each application. It is unknown if the City of Framingham applied. The state’s program was developed to encourage municipalities to replace culverts with better-designed crossings that meet improved structural and environmental design standards and climate resiliency criteria.
Molly Bronner is a 2021 summer intern for SOURCE. She is a Framingham High student. She watched the meeting on Zoom and then wrote this report and submitted the screenshots below.