The Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen voted on July 10 to advance the large-scale road project slated for Main Street, Water Street, Beacon Street, and Marion Road to the 10 percent submittal review point after a presentation by VHB Engineering representatives Jamie Pisano and Geoffrey Morrison-Logan.
The two had met several times with various boards, committees, and residents of the affected neighborhoods over the past several months to discuss the facets – and concerns – of the reconstruction funded through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
Public input, Pisano said, was the first objective on ascertaining what was important to residents and how they use the roadways before designing the project that includes road paving, road adjustments such as widening and narrowing, and the addition of sidewalks – on both sides in some areas.
Residents were mostly concerned with keeping the character of the streets as they exist now, and safety improvements were requested, such as ways to curtail speeding. Drainage was another hot topic, as was parking.
Pisano said the goal is to complete this project with as few right-of-way land-takings as possible, and with as few tree-takings as possible.
The engineers showed computer-generated simulations of how the roadways and sidewalks would look once finished, which showed a cleared, more defined road and sidewalk lines, new striping (except for in some parts where striping was deemed to be a detriment to the character of the neighborhood), and a more uniform design throughout the village.
Highway Surveyor Barry Denham advocated for less striping wherever possible, citing maintenance and safety concerns.
“When you have lines, people tend to try to stay in the lane and when they’re passing people on bicycles … they tend to not want to go over that center line,” Denham said. “We find that it’s safe and it works out very well … so why don’t we just forget about the lines if we can get away with it?”
The selectmen had few questions, except about parking, especially in front of Shipyard Park where parking would be created on the south side of the street right in front of the park instead of where it currently is, in front if the Inn.
“Aesthetically it will look better with no parking in front of [Shipyard Park],” said Selectman Paul Silva.
This, Pisano said, would impact trees on that stretch because of the limited space available for road widening and sidewalks.
“The only way to make it line up is to put that parking in the south side,” said Denham. “We’re trying to put 21stcentury requirements on 18thcentury roads.”
Morrison-Logan said these are the tradeoffs one must make, “balancing a lot of competing demands.”
“And we’re trying to be careful as to the amount of real estate we’re taking,” added Morrison-Logan.
One aspect of the design that selectmen liked was the reconfiguring of the Route 6/Marion Road intersection, which is currently more like a merge rather than a full-stop intersection. The new configuration would cause traffic to slow down while exiting or entering Marion Road.
“People are gonna absolutely hate this until they get used to using it,” said Denham.
Denham continued, “This is a pretty good design,” as it manages to keep within the existing property boundaries, he explained, requiring less land taking and with as limited an impact on the surrounding properties as possible.
Before approving the 10 percent submittal review, Silva again addressed parking in front of Shipyard Park, lamenting the 13 additional spaces while questioning whether there was anywhere else parking could be arranged.
“Absolutely, it’s the only place it can go?” Silva asked.
“Absolutely,” replied Denham.
Silva said he still found it “a little troublesome,” adding, “I just want to make sure you’ve looked at everything.”
“It’s the view of Shipyard Park, the monuments there,” said Selectman Jordan Collyer, while adding, “I think the plan is very well done. You’re never going to please everybody, but you do a pretty good job appealing to the masses.”
“It’s gonna be a beautiful trip through there,” said Silva, wrapping up discussion.
Pisano anticipates reaching the 25 percent submittal review mark by December of this year, “And then the clock would tick,” he said.
The project’s draft estimate, including inflation, has reached $5,180,000.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen is scheduled for August 14 at 6:30 pm at the Mattapoisett Town Hall.
Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen
By Jean Perry