A long-imagined cross-town trail allowing bikers and walkers to safely travel from the Service Road to the Cape Cod Canal is gaining traction.
The state Department of Transportation next week will host a public hearing —via remote conferencing—to find out how taxpayers feel about the agency’s proposed design for a shared path along the Service Road running from Route 130 to Chase Road.
The initial public hearing webinar, and public comment after the hearing, will allow DOT to gauge support for a 12-foot wide bicycle and pedestrian shared use path with a 3-foot shoulder on either side of the service road, according to a flyer circulated this week by the state agency.
“The purpose of this hearing is to provide the public with the opportunity to become fully acquainted with the proposed Sandwich shared use path project. All views and comments submitted in response to the hearing will be reviewed and considered to the maximum extent possible,” the flyer says.
The hearing will be posted on Thursday, January 21, at this address: www.mass.gov/massdot-highway-design-public-hearings. The DOT’s public comment period will be open from January 21 to February 4.
In a related development, the town’s public works department this week will be submitting a MassTrails matching grant proposal for $126,000.
If awarded, the grant would help the town pay for a feasibility study for a shared path that runs from the Service Road to the Cape Cod Canal, said Assistant Town Engineer Samuel Jensen, who was working on the application Thursday afternoon.
The town is hoping to hire VHB, an engineering firm in Watertown, to look at alternate routes that would allow walkers and bikers to traverse the town without putting their lives at risk on the town’s narrow, busy roads.
Possible paths include unconventional solutions such as passage through Shawme State Forest, and property adjacent to the state fish hatchery, according to a consultant’s preliminary concept map.
VHB has served the town as a consultant on several transportation projects, Mr. Jensen said. The consultant would be working with the engineering department and the Sandwich Bikeways & Pedestrian Committee whose vision sparked the town and state efforts.
In a separate area of interest, the state DOT is currently examining how bikers and walkers could safely enter and exit Route 6 where it intersects with Route 130, which Mr. Jensen described as “a very challenging segment” of the plan.
“They are looking at building a bridge or a tunnel, or utilizing an existing bridge and the underpass beneath,” Mr. Jensen said.
Both the town and the state are interested in connecting Sandwich to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which will ultimately run from Woods Hole to Provincetown. The Service Road link is vital to that project, members of the Sandwich bike committee have said.
Sandwich bike committee chairman-elect Sean Polay this week sent a letter of support to the Bourne bike committee, which is also seeking state funds to continue work on the 6.2 mile stretch of Bourne Rail Trail.
“Bourne’s effort dovetails with work in our town to connect the Cape Cod Canal pathway through Sandwich village to a planned shared-use path along Service Road. That path will eventually connect to the Cape Cod Rail Trail extension in Barnstable,” Mr. Polay wrote.
“Completion of the Bourne Rail Trail will have immense benefit to Sandwich cyclists by creating a continuous path from Sandwich to Monument Beach, Monks Park and the Pocasset and Cataumet coves—areas frequented by Sandwich residents for shellfishing and other recreation.”
Mr. Polay said his support for the Bourne effort is not entirely unselfish.
“I’m hoping they’ll write a letter of support for our grant request too,” Mr. Polay said.