The owners of the Christmas Tree Shops store abutting Route 6 in South Sagamore have criticized a proposal to modify the Mid-Cape Highway.
The owners have come out in opposition to changes they believe will negatively impact their business and livelihood: specifically, a plan to move Exit 1C farther east, away from the bridge. At present, the exit connects with Cranberry Highway in Sagamore, and provides drivers heading off-Cape with access to Route 6A/Sandwich Road.
It also can take drivers to an ancillary road that leads directly to the Christmas Tree Shops parking lot. The store owners argue that moving the exit from its present location would hurt their business.
The Town of Bourne recently received a letter sent to “All Concerned Parties of the Cape Cod Regional Transportation Plan” from property owners Jeffrey D. Bilezikian and Gregory C. Bilezikian.
The letter noted that the Christmas Tree Shops opened in its current location in 1985. They noted that the business transformed land that was being used as a dump “into an economic engine that brought life to this area.”
The letter also offered some relevant facts about the history of the Christmas Tree Shops store and its economic benefit to the region. It noted that 50 people work at the store, with a total of $1 million paid in annual salaries.
That translates to annual contributions of $130,000 to Social Security, $400,000 in sales tax, and $30,000 in property tax. In 30 years, they said, that resulted in overall contributions of $3.9 million to Social Security, and $12 million in sales tax and $900,000 in property tax.
“We believe closing the current exit will negatively impact our location and not improve traffic flow off Cape Cod,” the letter said.
Back in February, the Cape Cod Canal Region Transportation Study Group presented its final recommendations for traffic improvements during a meeting in Admiral Hall on the campus of Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Seven scenarios were explored by the working group, examining everything from road creation to rotary reconfiguration, new pedestrian/bicycle paths, and bus stops.
All of the scenarios assumed the Army Corps of Engineers will replace—not repair or rehabilitate—both the Sagamore Bridge and the Bourne Bridge.
The scenario the transportation group chose to recommend was labeled Case 3A.
Among the alterations recommended in Case 3A was the suggestion to move Exit 1C on the westbound side of the mid-Cape Highway about three-quarters of a mile east, away from the entrance to the Sagamore Bridge and the Christmas Tree Shops.
The idea would be to make room for an acceleration and deceleration lane. At present, cars have to slow down or merge right before the Sagamore Bridge.
The recommendation to move the exit has been rebuked by Bourne Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino. He has criticized the transportation study group for giving too much consideration to Sandwich residents who would benefit from the change, and not acknowledging how disruptive it will be to Sagamore residents.
Mr. Guerino added that the town opposes the relocation “both from a business and resident perspective.”
“The disruption to the resident and business community in South Sagamore and those that live along Sandwich Road is excessive and unwarranted for the minimal time savings of those traveling on Route 6 to get across the existing Sagamore Bridge,” he said.
The Bilezikians also took issue with the town’s prior decision to make Adams Street one-way and MassDOT’s previous decision to take away one of the store’s curb cuts. Those decisions, they said, have created safety hazards, additional traffic and driver confusion.
“We understand the need for change and want to partner on solutions that have positive results for Cape Cod and Sagamore while preserving the businesses and property values that benefit the current Exit 1C location,” they said.
The men said they plan to commission their own traffic study of the area to demonstrate the impact on their business of moving Exit 1C and the other recommendations MassDOT has proposed in the canal area transportation study.
“We reserve the right to submit this report,” they said.