Falmouth Selectmen Looking At Great Bay Street Erosion Problems

The town engineer’s request to close a fifth section of Great Bay Street prompted residents to voice frustrations over what they call a slow response to the deteriorating road.

During their meeting Monday, selectmen approved Peter M. McConarty’s request to close a 200-foot stretch of Great Bay Street, from Pocasset Street to Boston Street, as a safety precaution. Like many other sections of the mostly dirt road, the side facing Great Pond is being eroded. Mr. McConarty said the bank is losing brush and vegetation that holds the bank together, attributing much of the problem to winter storms and roadwater runoff.

His department will work with an environmental consultant to create a long-term plan to repair the coastal bank and then seek the necessary permits from the conservation commission for the work. Most likely it will include planting vegetation. If approved by the commission, Mr. McConarty will head to this fall’s Town Meeting to request funding for the project.

Falmouth Heights Maravista Improvement Association vice chairman Paula L. Lichter said the town has been neglecting the road—an unintended consequence of all the closures. “The potholes are nine inches deep in spots and the road is covered in sand,” she said, making it unable to ride her bike.

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She said she has been requesting the department of public works to fix the large holes and regrade the road, but it hasn’t been done.

“I asked the board of selectmen to take a leadership role on this,” Ms. Lichter said.

Chairman Mary (Pat) Flynn responded by asking the town manager to contact the highway superintendent to see what can be done.

Mr. McConarty said regrading would be possible, but filling in the potholes may be problematic. It would require moving boulders to accommodate large trucks carrying the fill.

Richard Paglia of Massasoit Street said the large boulders that were placed near the bank for safety cause the road to be too narrow for pedestrians and cyclists to traverse. He asked for a smaller replacement barrier, one that would allow the flow of pedestrians.

He also asked for the potholes to be filled, saying it is an ongoing problem.

“Some are so big they take up the entire road, and they stay filled with water a week after it rains. We’re like a stepchild. We don’t get any attention,” he said.

Mr. McConarty said he would look into both of those concerns.

Ms. Flynn asked him if there is a larger plan in place for dealing with the road erosion, to which Mr. McConarty mentioned he is looking at adding more road drainage to mitigate stormwater runoff.

He said water travels down Maravista Avenue and its side streets, ending up on Great Bay Street. He is looking into adding more drainage pipes on these roads, but said Great Bay Street may take some creative solutions.

“It’s hard to create adequate long-lasting drainage on dirt roads. We only get a few years out of it,” he said. A possible solution, he said, is to place large pipes underground and top with loam and seed.

Marc P. Finneran of Trotting Park Road said the water runoff should have been addressed with the town’s recent wastewater management plan, stating a great deal of nitrogen flows into the bays from stormwater.

“These soft solutions Mr. McConarty is proposing is like shoveling dung against the tide. Until you weave road water runoff solutions into the wastewater plan, nothing will help,” he said.

Ms. Flynn asked Mr. McConarty to return to the selectmen next month with an update on the proposed projects.

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