MassDOT Meets with Residents

On June 18, members of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation met with residents to outline the current status of the Mattapoisett village roads project now slated for MassDOT’s TIP funding program in 2028 and nearing 25% design.

            The public meeting, which was heavily advertised in media outlets and the town’s website, brought approximately 100 people to the Old Rochester Regional High School auditorium for a 6:30 pm start.

            For 30 minutes, the attendees were briefed on what has become at times a rather contentious subject – the best way to update and upgrade drainage systems, sidewalks, and uses of the 1.4-mile project. The question-and-answer portion of the proceedings took approximately 90 minutes. Anyone who wished to speak or ask questions was given the opportunity to do so.

            The presentation was primarily given by Greg Russell of VHB, the town-selected engineering firm. The firm’s involvement spans a nearly 10-year period of time. On Tuesday, Russell touched on the project description (1.4 miles from Tobey Lane to Old Marion Road), existing conditions (noted were the disrepair of sidewalks and roadways, as well as stormwater-drainage issues), proposed improvements that could include full-depth reconstruction of the roadway to provide two 12-foot-wide travel lanes, and ADA-compliant sidewalks.

            But the elephant in the room or, better yet, the massive tree, was the issue of tree removal along the corridor to accommodate reconstruction while still meeting MassDOT regulations.

            Russell said that current plans show 27 trees being removed and 34 new trees being planted.

            A new detail emerged. Russell said that the project is now slated to start at Tobey Lane versus Route 6. Russell explained that a separate roadway project along the Route 6 corridor is planned by Mass DOT and would involve a redesign of the Main Street Route 6 intersection, thus that portion (Tobey Lane north to the Main Street Route 6 intersection) will no longer be included in the village street project.

            Rising to speak, a number of people wondered about such matters as the necessity to have two sidewalks flanking the roadway. They were told that the town had asked for a waiver from that requirement, and it was granted.

            Carlos DaSousa, who has been vocal in wanting the engineers to consider placing utilities underground, was told by the MassDOT team that the costs associated with moving services underground would be placed on the individual property owners.

            Sandy Hering, the Tree Committee chairman and a prime mover in wanting more involvement in the design process in an effort to save mature trees from the axe, asked if, when and how MassDOT involved a landscape designer or others to assist in developing designs. She was told by Russell that landscaping would come nearer the end of the process but that the utilities were being designed by utility engineers.

            Hering also asked to see details related to protecting trees not planned for removal. She said her concerns were that remaining trees would be negatively impacted.

            Mike Huguenin, chairman of the Mattapoisett Land Trust, asked if the new tree proposed for the Munro Preserve (MLT) property could be placed farther away from Water Street, which skirts the park. Huguenin also expressed his concerns over public safety and stormwater management. He asked all to consider the proposed project.

            Town Administrator Mike Lorenco said that he wanted to be “up front.” He said all the trees could not be kept and that if anyone got hurt due to the poor sidewalk conditions, the town could be sued.

            And back to drainage, Robbin Peach asked if the $16,000.000 price tag for the project includes the drainage improvements. Russell said yes.

            Hering asked if the team had been involved in any similar projects so that the new village road project committee established after the spring Town Meeting might reach out to another town facing a project of this scope. Hull was mentioned.

            When asked if the town has agreed to take the TIP funding, Lorenco responded, “Not yet, but we have spent money to get this far.”

            Armed with direct input from the residents, MassDOT will respond to any open questions pending their follow-up and gave interested parties contact details as noted here: Carrie Lavallee, PE Chief Engineer, PE Chief Engineer, MassDOT, 10 Park Plaza, Suite 7550, Boston, MA, 02116, Attention Project Management, File number 607440, Mattapoisett Corridor Improvements. Email

By Marilou Newell

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