Approximately 1,500 feet along Great Bay Street in Maravista has been closed since 2013. And more closures may be on the way.
“There is, in the works at this time, another plan to close several more streets along Great Bay Street,” deputy director of public works Peter M. McConarty said in a joint meeting of Falmouth selectmen and the water quality management and the coastal resiliency action committees on Monday, September 17.
So far, the Town of Falmouth has closed the portions of the road between Oak Street and Harrington Street, Cypress Street and Philadelphia Street, Iroquois Street to Reynolds Street, Hiawatha Street to Providence Street and Pocasset Street to Boston Street. When closing streets, the DPW considers the houses along Great Bay Street as well as the needs of emergency vehicles.
Mr. McConarty said the department is looking at “soft solutions” to address the erosion, including nourishment and sedimentation. When the department first calculated the cost of renourishment in 2013, it cost between $800 and $1,000 per foot.
“The soft solution is the preferred way to go,” he said. “We are not looking at hard armaments at this time.”
He said Falmouth is at the point where it needs to act.
Coastal resiliency action committee chairman Charles T. McCaffrey said the Woods Hole Group vulnerability study would likely provide them with information on the situation, but the results of that study are a year away.
“Things need to happen in the interim,” Selectman Megan E. English Braga said, noting that while the study will provide recommendations to adapt to climate change and increase resiliency, the town will need to intervene in areas such as Great Bay Street.
“It doesn’t sound like a project that can wait,” she said.
Catherine Wilson of Great Bay Street asked the town to consider closing the street, saying she has approached the department of public works, the police department and the fire department with the request.
“I’m urging you to move forward with any of those road closure plans that have been approved by those bodies,” she said.
Mayflower Street resident Robert Dolan suggested that closing the street would increase safety in the area, as people use Great Bay Street as a “de facto walking path.” People driving along the road do not necessarily realize this, so he has witnessed many near-accidents in that area.
Frank Laquidara said there has been extensive erosion between Providence Street and Palm Street.
“There has been so much erosion in the past four years, it can’t be measured in inches, it has to be measured in feet,” Mr. Laquidara said.
He said the erosion has turned the area into a cliff. With people and children walking in the area, it is particularly dangerous.
“It is a tragedy waiting to happen,” he said. “Anyone who falls, they are not going to fall on a gradual slope. It’s a cliff.”
He also described damage to trees in the area.
“We’ve had large trees, at the end of Hiawatha Street, succumb to erosion and fall on the beach,” he said.
Several residents referenced mitigation efforts done by residents in that area. Resident Pete Carpenter reported the area between Pocasset Street and Harmony Street has stabilized, but mitigation efforts need to go further.
Mr. McConarty said that while they could hypothetically close off access to Great Bay Street, simply closing the road does nothing to address the erosion of the coastal bank. Additional steps would need to be taken.