The Steamship Authority needs increasing pressure from outside forces like residents, area representatives, local traffic management personnel, boards of select persons and state officials interested in regional transportation matters, including reducing the carbon footprint.
Even a casual look at the SSA landslide building plans presented in a recent Zoom meeting to the public look very tight. There simply is not enough room in the space available for all that the SSA wishes to accomplish. On paper the situation looks orderly but the size of physical turns for both cars and trucks, the area for drop-offs and pick-ups, the area for taxis, various buses or the placement of the shuttle to the adjacent parking lot requires all of these entities to use precisely the same quarters.
The lanes seem way too narrow for the volume. Backup on Woods Hole Road has already occurred routinely during peak season. Nothing but growth has been going on for years. It is as if a second major staging area is needed in Falmouth. There is no talk of modernization of ticketing or messaging. There is no room for eminent domain, either.
The accommodation for large and small trucks appears insufficient. Quiet patches of activity simply are not an excuse for the status quo. The impact of busy times is crucial in the analysis of the long-range picture and its impact. Earlier morning transports before 6 AM are not a reasonable solution but perhaps the SSA’s logical solution. There is plenty of mission creep possible here. It is as if the actual logistics of transportation have totally eclipsed the building plans, which should be smaller for a start just to accommodate even a portion of the traffic and its flow at both slow and peak times.
The SSA and the architects seem to have never taken into consideration the site they are working with and the traffic volume at peak times. It is as if both parties are working blind and that the development and business people on the Vineyard are dealing with abstract concepts.
The failure to take into account climate change is huge. To spend that much on a fortified and raised building without any concept of electric boats in the future is mindboggling. Where will future electric boat charging stations go? At least the SSA could consider a longer-term investment strategy. Who is really benefiting here? The current plans are short term at best and the pressure to finish up is misplaced now more than ever. Current weather reports everywhere could reasonably be part of the story. That so much has already been spent is hardly related to our ongoing shared reality.