The Bike Path’s Long Journey Continues

            On February 21, the Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting, something it has been doing for nearly 30 years. And the work continues, work that includes pursuing easements, rights-of-way, working with state and federal entities, meetings with attorneys or with local department heads as well as abutters. The committee volunteers are Chairman Steve Kelleher and members Rob Price and Ray Rose.

            The committee’s efforts have been supported by the Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike Path as well as taxpayers who have spent many thousands of dollars in the effort to bring a bike path from the town line with Fairhaven to the town line with Marion. As work on Phase 1b has been taking place, the committee rolls on looking ahead to Phase 2a and 2b.

            Before discussing those phases, Kelleher said that he had met with the Mattapoisett Tree Committee to discuss landscaping and tree planting along parts of Phase 1b. He shared that the pathway at the edge of Mattapoisett Neck Road had required more leveling and widening than originally planned in order to create a smooth transition from the tarred public street to the path. “… Landscaping was part of the contract,” he said of the agreement with the Acushnet-based construction company D.W. White. But, he continued, “We have a 10-percent contingency ($670,000) so we can plan for a change order and have them do the planting work before they wrap up.”

            Several abutters had come forward once Phase 1b clearing had begun and asked for screening to buffer their properties. Kelleher said that he had received an email from Ted Nolte, 9 Locust Street, regarding this matter. Kelleher said that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the funding source for this phase, was aware of abutters’ requests for more screening and that they, along with the Town Administrator, needed to sign-off on those improvements before work could take place. In the meantime, he stated that a planting plan would be created. “We are ahead of schedule,” he said regarding Phase 1b, which is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2021.

            Regarding Phases 2a and 2b, Kelleher said that he would be meeting with Town Counsel Matt Thomas, who had been working on behalf of the community on all phases of the bike path nearly since the beginning. He also said that wetlands scientist John Rockwell had begun surveying wetlands along the railroad right-of-way running through the Park Street neighborhood. However, Rockwell’s work has been temporarily halted due to a broken storm-water pipe. Railroad easements have been and will continue to be the main artery used for the bike path, he said.

            And on the matter of conceptual designs for these later phases, drawings have not been officially drafted, Kelleher said. Town Meeting has supported Phase 2a and 2b with monies for design engineering. He thought that a meeting with Highway Surveyor Barry Denham, the Town Administrator, Nick Nelson, the town’s GIS coordinator, and possibly members of the Mass-DOT team would plan to hash out preliminary designs.

            Phase 2a will begin at the end of Goodspeed Island Road heading north across Route 6 and eventually ending at the fence line adjacent to the park-and-ride parking lot along North Street. Phase 2b is planned to cross North Street entering onto Industrial Drive to the end of the paved roadway. A short, one-mile piece that continues on along the railroad easement is being planned by the Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike Path, which has been raising funds and seeking grants. This final mile will connect to Marion’s bike path. Marion’s bike path has been listed on the Mass-DOT TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) for 2022 funding, although confirmation has not yet been received.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee is scheduled for March 19 at 5:30 pm in the Town Hall conference room.

Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee

By Marilou Newell

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