Bike Path Boardwalk Opening Soon

            The Mattapoisett Bike Path has been a work in process for decades, involving numerous town officials, department heads and an equal or greater number of volunteers. So when the construction of the heralded Phase 1b featuring a lengthy, raised boardwalk traversing scenic wetlands and coastal beaches at last began, a collective “hurray” rang out from the Fairhaven-to-Marion boundaries. But the rejoicing was short lived. The boardwalk crossing the Eel Pond breach and skirting the Good Speed Island beach would be delayed for over a year.

            The delays were primarily due to defective planking that was selected by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, but behind the scenes Mattapoisett’s Select Board (including the late John DeCosta), along with Representative William Straus, Mattapoisett’s Bike Path Committee and the Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee, stayed the course working through finite details.

            Direct and indirect effects in the pandemic only exacerbated the difficulty inherent in this phase of the project.

            With the planking issues resolved, there remain written agreements between the town and the state as to the divvying up of responsibilities and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.

            Recently, Select Board members Jordan Collyer and Tyler Macallister confirmed the bike path connecting Mattapoisett’s Phase 1 and Phase 1b is close at hand.

            Macallister recently used the Mattapoisett Life Facebook page to update the public, writing: “Hello Mattapoisett. Just finished up a punch list walk for the section of the bike path between Reservation Road and Goodspeed Island with the MA DOT, D.W White (contractor), engineering firm, Mike Lorenco (town administrator) and Garret Bauer (highway surveyor.) Next on the list is a bridge inspection by the state, completion of a few minor items identified during the walk, completion of the MOU with the state and some other minor items. A mid-April opening is not out of the question, but a couple gating items are beyond the Town’s control. I compliment D.W. White on a very nice job and the cleanliness of the area. I will update as I learn more.”

            Collyer told us in a follow-up, “Looks like Memorial Day or sooner is possible but still have to sign the MOU.”

            There is no firm date for a handoff yet, but many are anxiously awaiting that announcement.

            In the meantime, the Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee is pushing forward with preliminary designs for what might prove to be an equally difficult section Phase 2a, crossing Route 6 and North Street at the Industrial Park area.

            During their March 8 public meeting, the committee heard from Pare Corporation, the engineering firm selected to complete a 10% conceptual design that includes layers of topographical, hydrological and feasibility data.

            For an hour, the group delved into not only the very real concerns of cycling and pedestrian safety when traveling close to busy roadways but also easement and wetland considerations.

            Pare described types of crossing safety equipment, flashing caution signage, as well as signage instructing users when, where and how to cross roadways. They shared a conceptual design that takes the proposed pathway through abutting neighborhoods, including one or more driveways now considered private.

            It became clear during discussion of the railroad easement and private property abutting the former railroad bed that this issue is very unclear. Who owns or has rights to what easements remains a gaping hole in the conversation.

            In a follow-up with longtime bike-path advocate and now newest member of the Bike Path Committee (again), Bonne DaSousa stated, “At every stage of planning, the ownership of the (railroad) right-of-way must be confirmed or acquired.”

            Clearly there are miles to go before they sleep, but the Bike Path Committee is rolling along.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee is planned for Wednesday, April 12.

Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee

By Marilou Newell

Leave A Comment...