Town Has Obligation To Fix Bridge, Agent Says
By: Alex Scofield
Research into the ownership of the Little Sandy Pond Bridge in Bournedale has proven inconclusive, said Conservation Agent Brendan C. Mullaney, but one thing is for sure, fixing it is Bourne’s problem.
That is because, Mr. Mullaney told selectmen on Tuesday evening, if the bridge were to collapse, it would ruin a vital herring run that flows along the Herring River from Great Herring Pond in Plymouth to the Cape Cod Canal Herring Run in Bourne.
The bridge, which crosses the Herring River near the intersection of Little Sandy Pond and Herring Pond roads, is in a state of extreme deterioration and getting worse by the day, Mr. Mullaney said.
It currently serves as primary access to only about six to eight homes in Bourne, but it is the main road used by Plymouth residents who live in a 200-home development in Cedarville.
However, though Plymouth residents are primarily dependent on the bridge, their town has denied responsibility for it and has asked Bourne to pay for the repairs.
“Usually if something is owned in this town, [Town Engineer] Michael E. Leitzel knows, but he couldn’t find anything on it,” Mr. Mullaney said.
Instead of splitting hairs over the ownership of the 80-year-old bridge, Mr. Mullaney said Bourne needed to step up and make the repairs in order to protect the natural resources that flow beneath it.
“We have an obligation to maintain the resource,” he said. “What we’re doing is not so much repairing the bridge as making sure herring can pass unobstructed.”
Mr. Mullaney said the repairs would include fixing up a culvert beneath the bridge through which herring swim.
The work would likely cost the town about $75,000, which would include $10,000 for an engineering study, $20,000 for non-emergency permitting and $45,000 for the actual repairs.
Mr. Mullaney said he has already received $10,000 in Developments of Regional Impact funds from the Cape Cod Commission’s Water Resources Office, and had applied for an additional $45,000 from the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program.
He said those grants should cover the cost of the work and the non-emergency permitting, as he believed the Department of Public Works could assist in the repairs.
Charles J. Miller of the Bourne Shore and Harbor Committee said that perhaps the state Department of Fish & Game could also be appealed to for funding, as that area can also be fished for white perch.
Mr. Mullaney said, if needed funding was received in time, he hoped to do the work in October, after the fall migration of the herring.
Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino asked how residents would be able to access their homes while work is done on the bridge.
Mr. Mullaney said the engineer would have to decide if it would be possible to keep one lane open while the repair work was done.
If not, he said residents might have to find an alternate route to their homes during the work, which he did not anticipate would last more than a day or two.
Selectman John A. Ford Jr. said that, in the meantime, the board should have a discussion about putting a
“Pass at Own Risk” sign near the bridge for Bourne residents.
That item was placed on a future agenda for the board’s discussion.
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