The Falmouth Department of Public Works is delaying a number of projects due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the installation of a queuing lane on Chapoquoit Road near the entrance of Chapoquoit Beach.
Director of Public Works Peter M. McConarty announced the delay at the Monday, April 27, board of selectmen meeting.
In prior years, people driving to Chapoquoit Beach have queued along Chapoquoit Road while waiting to get into the parking lot. Last summer, the Falmouth Police Department enforced the no-parking restriction along Chapoquoit Road, including those cars lined up waiting to access the parking lot.
The department of public works found a way to expand the roadway to accommodate a queuing lane. The project involves removing the existing guardrail and putting in a new guardrail within the parking lot. The DPW will mill and pave to the new guardrail, creating a dedicated turn lane. The parking lot will be relined.
“There was no way it was going in the roadway, so the only thing we could do was take a piece of the parking lot to made this go through,” Mr. McConarty said. “With the design, we were able to actually fit this within the parking lot, and we only lost two or three spaces in there when it is completed and done.”
The design was reviewed by the Falmouth Beach Committee, but construction had not begun. The goal was to complete the project prior to the 2020 beach season.
“We’re looking to see if we can delay that or postpone that,” Mr. McConarty said, noting the DPW is not canceling the project.
Selectman Susan L. Moran asked him to reconsider this delay, as the board heard from numerous homeowners last year about the “parade of folks being jammed up when trying to get onto the beach.”
“I think that was one project, if I remember correctly, was actually fairly well along,” Ms. Moran said. “It reminds me of when we looked at the situation with the Poor House and we were talking about the roof. There are situations where I think it makes sense to put a small amount of money towards, or whatever money is necessary here, toward a situation that I think will take a little bit to get resolved.”
She added that beaches are a major source of revenue for the town. In addition, social distancing recommendations will likely change during the summer season, and the town should have its beaches ready for those changes, she said.
Selectman Douglas H. Jones said beach access during the summer season remains an unknown.
“Sue’s concern is only if we reopen the beaches,” Mr. Jones said. “Right now, the beach parking lots aren’t open. We don’t know if we will even be able to open the beaches this summer.”
Town administration closed the Falmouth beach parking lots on April 1.
Chairwoman Megan E. English Braga shared a comment from beach committee chairman Paul Miskovsky regarding the project. Mr. Miskovsky said the project has been long in the making, and it is not a good use of police resources to enforce no-parking restrictions in that area. Noting the beaches generate between $500,000 and $700,000 annually, he said failure to move forward with this project undermines that revenue generation.
Ms. Moran moved the DPW not delay the Chapoquoit Road projects.
“I would second that, because as Sue pointed out, with that beach being a source of revenue, while we might not get much revenue this year, we should be in a position to get that revenue, if it is possible,” Selectman Douglas C. Brown said. “It just seems like that one should go forward, if possible.”
The motion failed on a 3-2 vote. Ms. Moran and Mr. Brown voted in favor of proceeding now.
“I don’t think this is the right time to do it,” Mr. Jones said. “”We should get this done for 2021, but we don’t need to get it done now.”
The DPW is also delaying the Shining Sea Bikeway extension projects. Funding for the $694,000 project to design, permit and develop a proposal to connect the bike path from its current terminus on County Road in North Falmouth to the Bourne town line has been requested through the Chapter 90 program and the Community Preservation Fund.
“The [community preservation committee] committed to allocating 50 percent of the cost for that project, with the request the remaining funds come from the town,” Mr. McConarty said.
The CPC funding request will go before the Spring Town Meeting for approval. The Chapter 90 request was approved, and those funds are available.
“We want to keep it allocated,” Mr. McConarty said. “We want to hold onto those funds, in case something does happen and we need funds to do some other work. We may need to dip into and use some of those funds for Chapter 90 work.”
The town usually receives $1.25 million in Chapter 90 funds from the state each year. The town typically receives this allocation in late March or early April, but Mr. McConarty said he has not heard about any Chapter 90 allocations yet this year.
“That is one project that we would just like to hold and keep those funds in reserve,” he said.
Several Shining Sea Bikeway repair projects are underway. The DPW is replacing the Trunk River Bridge and replacing the revetment in that area. The revetment was heavily damaged by coastal storms last October.
The DPW is also delaying four road repaving projects on Quissett Harbor Road, Deepwood Drive, Sandwich Road and Old Main Road.
Several road repaving projects are underway. The DPW is repaving Brick Kiln Road between Gifford Street and Sandwich Road; Jones Road betwen Palmer Avenue and Gifford Street; Ashument Road between Route 151 and Hoop Pole Road; and Palmer Avenue from the Woodrise development to Pumping Station Road.
The DPW is also reconstructing Palmer Avenue near Queens Buyway and continuing with the Route 28 water main replacement project.
Several project designs are ongoing, including the Main Street redesign. The DPW is also developing new designs for the Route 151, Sam Turner Road, Boxberry Hill Road and Cloverfield Road intersection; the Route 151 and Sandwich Road intersection; the Jones Road and Gifford Street intersection, and the Palmer Avenue crosswalk to Goodwill Park.