The Massachusetts House and Senate have approved a bill that would give the Town of Falmouth nearly $1 million toward an upgrade of the Shining Sea Bikeway.
The $890,000 included for improvements to the bikeway is part of a Senate environmental bond bill for the preservation and improvement of land, parks, and clean energy that also includes funds for the Oyster Pond Environmental Trust to purchase land in the Quissett area, funds for the installation of oyster reefs and to monitor wells for water quality, and the construction of a boat ramp at White’s Landing.
The bill will go to conference committee before presenting it to Governor Deval L. Patrick for final approval.
The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed the bill last Thursday, July 10.
“We’ve had multiple requests over the years to Therese Murray and Representatives Vieira and Madden for bikeway improvements because it is such an extraordinary artery of traffic for pedestrians and bicyclists in the town,” town manager Julian M. Suso said. “It would be extremely gratifying to receive the state’s support for the bike path.”
A release from Senate president Therese M. Murray’s office said that funds would go toward expanding the width of the bikeway from 10 to 12 feet; fixing bumps and cracks caused by root-growth underneath the pavement; improving signage and safety along the path; improving interconnection to the downtown area, and improving vegetation conditions on the side of the path.
“We have a safety obligation and we have a need to encourage and promote business,” said former chairman of the bikeways committee, Dr. Edward S. Gross. He said that the bikeway is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Falmouth. “If your bikeway is in poor condition, as it is now, that’s on the wrong side of that equation.”
Dr. Gross said that he made requests in the past for $250,000 to repave the section of the path from Locust Street to Woods Hole, which he said is in the most need of work.
Some parts of the bikeway, in the southern and oldest section of the path, have not been repaved in close to 40 years, he said.
“I think this is great,” he said.
Newly elected chairman of the bikeways committee Scott R. Lindell said that he was not sure how far the funds would go, but that the priority would be for the southern section of the path.
“We continuously hear from bike users that it is in serious need of repair,” Mr. Lindell said. He said that expanding the width was originally conceived of as a bonus and he did not think there would be sufficient funds for that. He said that it would be better to create a nicer, natural barrier on the sides in an effort to make some of the areas more attractive to joggers. He said that the wooden bridge sections in the southern section of the path are in need of work as well.
“This is definitely great news,” he said.
Mr. Lindell was elected chairman at a bikeways board meeting on July 1. He said that he has “a great committee that keeps me informed that I delegate to. We are keenly looking forward to our August 6 meeting to involve the public in vigorous and lively discussion.”
The bikeways committee has invited the public to a meeting at the Hermann Foundation Meeting Room in the Falmouth Public Library to hear feedback on how to improve bicycle safety on Falmouth public roads.
The Shining Sea Bikeway opened in 1975 and runs 10.7 miles from Woods Hole to North Falmouth.