Residents Review Proposed Ocean Street Changes

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By: James Kinsella
Published: 08/17/12

Preliminary plans to modify the Ocean Street corridor in Hyannis from Main Street to near Nantucket Street received a mostly favorable response at a meeting held Wednesday evening at town hall.

Fifty people attended.

The plans include narrowing the two vehicle travel lanes on Ocean Street, introducing a 5-foot-wide bicycle lane between Main and South streets, adding green space to the public parking lot on Ocean Street, and creating a 4-foot-wide multi-use path running from South Street to near Nantucket Street.

Plans also call for stormwater drainage improvements along the corridor to better protect Hyannis Inner Harbor. Barnstable Town Engineer Roger Parsons estimated the cost of the project at about $1 million.

The town public works and growth management departments are collaborating on the project.

Following a request for proposals, Stantec Consulting of Auburn, New Hampshire, was chosen by the town at the cost of $120,000 to assist with the preliminary design of a project.

Jo Anne Miller Buntich, director of growth management, said the town hopes to secure a MassWorks infrastructure grant to help fund the work.

The town previously received funding through MassWorks to make improvements in the Stevens Street area of Hyannis.

As a requirement of the grant, Mr. Parsons said, the town must make accommodations for all roadway uses, including pedestrians and bicyclists as well as vehicles.

Corridor improvement plans also include updating and improving the traffic signals at the Ocean Street/South Street intersection, which town officials said date from the 1970s and which sometimes cause congestion on the roads heading toward and through the intersection.

William Mertz, the senior project manager for Stantec, said the town further needs to bring the intersection into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The town does not intend to take any private property to make the improvements along the corridor, Mr. Parsons said.

The town engineer said the town hopes to secure the MassWorks grant by the end of the year.

He said the town wants to firm up the final design by the early spring of 2013, with possibly some related utility work starting around that time.

Mr. Parsons anticipates the main project construction will run from the late fall of 2013 into the spring of 2014.

In response to comments by residents at the meeting, Mr. Parsons said the town likely would extend the scope to work to improve pedestrian safety at Ocean Street’s intersections with Nantucket Street and Channel Point Road.

Hyannis resident Peter Cross called for improved pedestrian signage through the corridor.

But one variation of the corridor plans—cutting off the direct flow south across the South Street intersection to Old Colony Way as a way of improving pedestrian movements—prompted something along the lines of an insurrection in the room.

Eliminating that leg, Hyannis resident Felicia Penn said, likely would put her at the risk of having a stroke.

Ms. Penn said having direct access to Old Colony Way, without a forced detour along a short section of Ocean Street south of South Street, was crucial to residents trying to drive to areas south of the intersection.

Other meeting participants, including Marina Atsalis of Hyannis and Hy-Line representative Philip Scudder, echoed her disfavor.

“We felt obligated to bring this to you,” Mr. Parsons replied.

Pedestrians face difficulties in making their way across the Ocean Street/South Street intersection, he said.

But at the conclusion of the meeting, Ms. Buntich said the town would not pursue the cutoff of the Old Colony leg.

“We are not going to include any of the changes you don’t prefer,” she said.

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