A committee advising the town on the creation of a bicycle path extension has recommended using funds from a state grant now in hand before tapping other revenue sources.
The proposed 6.5-mile extension, which would run from North Falmouth to the Cape Cod Canal, would connect the Shining Sea Bike Path in Falmouth with the Canal Service Road in Bourne.
At their meeting last Tuesday, September 3, members of the Town Administrator’s Advisory Committee on Pedestrian Bicycle Pathway noted that the project has received a grant of $285,000 from the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Program. It was also pointed out that the grant has a deadline of June 30, 2020. Any money not used by that date will no longer be available for the project.
“As of June 30, it expires,” member Mark M. Emmons said. “It turns into a pumpkin.”
Committee chairman David J. MacPherson has said the state trails program grant will provide the additional funding for the design of Phase 1 of the trail, from Bell Road to Monument Neck Road, and the start of design on Phase 2, going south from Monument Neck Road to Monks Cove in Pocasset. The design work is being done by the engineering firm of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin.
The so-called Bourne Rail Trail has also received $15,000 from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that works with communities to preserve unused rail corridors by transforming them into rail trails. That funding was secured by the group Friends of the Bourne Rail Trail.
The committee received another $50,000 in Community Preservation Act funds through a Community Preservation Committee article that passed at Annual Town Meeting in May. CPA funds are generated through a 3 percent surcharge on property owners’ annual real estate tax bills.
Member Kenneth A. Cheitlin told the group that all the funding appropriated the project, except the Mass Trails grant, does not expire. Mr. Cheitlin echoed Mr. Emmons and urged the committee to make certain the town uses the state funding to pay any bills from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin.
“The downside to our not spending the Mass Trails money is significant,” he said. “We worked hard to get that.”
Members agreed to a motion from Mr. MacPherson that a representative from VHB attend the group’s next meeting. The representative would provide a status report on Phase One work, and recommendations on how to proceed with Phase Two. A date for that next meeting has not been scheduled yet.
Mr. MacPherson made a second motion to recommend that the town revise its contract with VHB to include that all bills relative to design of the bikeway be paid with Mass Trail grant money.
“In our recommendation we highlight the fact that there’s a deadline for utilizing the Mass Trails grant money,” he said.
Both motions were unanimously approved.
Phase One of the project involves building the path from Bell Road to Monument Neck Road, a distance of slightly more than half a mile.
Phase Two is more ambitious. It is to cover roughly 10,500 feet and stretch from Monument Neck Road down to Monk’s Park at Valley Bars Road. That phase will face some challenges, including the railroad bridge at Back River in the area of the Lobster Trap restaurant and the Monument Beach railroad bridge at Emmons Road.
The committee has also agreed to recommend that the town file Project Notification Forms for Phases 3 and 4 of the project with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Mr. MacPherson has said that filing the forms is the first step to acquire a project number, which is needed to get on the list for state construction funds.
Phase Three would cover approximately the same distance as Phase Two, and would end at the Shore Road overpass bridge on Shipyard Lane by Kingman Yacht Center. It would require a solution to the overpass railroad bridge on Scraggy Neck Road by Cataumet Depot and Post Office Square.
The final stretch, Phase Four, would be the longest section to the pathway, running from Shipyard Lane to North Falmouth. It would cover roughly 11,500 feet, and eventually connect with the Shining Sea Bikeway. The bikeway currently ends about 4,000 feet from the Bourne-Falmouth town line, so there would need to be coordination with rail-trail people in Falmouth to make the final connection.