Residents Have Plenty To Say About Future Of Bourne Rotary
By: Michael J. Rausch
For Kathleen V. Donovan of Monument Beach, there is nothing wrong with the Bourne rotary that a little education and a lot of citations would not fix. Ms. Donovan was one of more than 50 residents who attended a meeting of the Bourne Transportation Advisory Committee last Thursday evening at the Jonathan Bourne Public Library. The committee was soliciting suggestions from people in town on whether or not the rotary at the foot of the Bourne Bridge should be replaced.
“I think the rotary should be left alone. Drivers should learn how to drive,” Ms. Donovan said. The Central Boulevard resident suggested that the “Cape Cod” vegetation at the rotary be replaced with directional signs because many drivers do not know what direction to go in once they are across the bridge. She said that, in addition to driving too fast, drivers are also uninformed about the rules and do not stop for rotary traffic. She challenged Bourne Police Chief Dennis R. Woodside to let her take care of the problem.
“I wish the chief would deputize me and I’d give out tickets,” Ms. Donovan said, to the delight and applause of many of the people gathered in the library’s meeting room.
Ronald H. Erickson of Amberwood Court in Monument Beach agreed that the problem is not so much with the rotary configuration as it is with drivers who go too fast across the bridge.
“Every time I go over it it’s a race track,” Mr. Erickson said. He predicted that an accident like the one on 93 northbound in Boston on August 9, in which a tractor trailer crashed through a guardrail, could happen someday.
“Somebody’s going to go off the bridge with a truck, a bus or a dozen cars and then we’re going to wish we had slowed the traffic down,” he said.
Thursday night’s meeting followed a similar meeting held two days earlier for local business owners who would be impacted by any attempt to replace or reconstruct the rotary. Cape Cod Commission Technical Services Director Glenn D. Cannon took the audience through several scenarios that had been presented by the Massachusetts Highway Department eight years ago.
While there are no redesign plans in place that have been accepted by either the Cape Cod Commission or the advisory committee, Mr. Cannon gave an overview of several drafts that have been presented in the past. Those plans included a cloverleaf and a diamond-shaped design that would siphon traffic heading towards Sandwich Road or Trowbridge Road away from the rotary. That would allow for a freer flow of traffic coming off the bridge and heading south on MacArthur Boulevard.
Mr. Cannon and Wesley J. Ewell, chairman of the transportation advisory committee, said that the proposals being shown were no longer considered “on the table.” They said that they did not meet the committee’s study goals which include improving economic opportunities for business owners and reducing impacts to residential neighborhoods. Mr. Ewell said that the concepts were being presented merely to get the conversation started about what residents would like to see done, and what their concerns are with regards to changes to the rotary.
“We’re trying to find out what will work in the town,” he said.
The claim that none of the concepts being presented were under consideration by either the commission or the advisory committee was questioned by Donald R. Provost of Emerson Avenue in Buzzards Bay. Mr. Provost said that 10 years ago he and some of his neighbors formed an association dedicated to the protection of their neighborhood. His group was successful at defeating implementation of Concept C, which calls for a slip ramp coming off MacArthur Boulevard northbound that would connect to Sandwich Road westbound, and a loop ramp coming off the Bourne Bridge that would connect with Sandwich Road westbound beneath the bridge.
“I know you’re pushing for it. You did 10 years ago and you haven’t changed your damn mind yet,” he said.
Mr. Provost suggested that such a ramp would lead to a constant noise problem because of tractor trailer trucks using emergency braking power in order to maneuver down the ramp. He also suggested that some of his neighbors would lose their homes as part of a land-taking in order to make the ramp. He mentioned that his group had been instrumental in preventing CanalSide Commons from being built because they were not in favor of Concept C, “and now you’re trying to stuff it back into our neck again.”
Kathleen M. Lavelle of Freeman Street said that it appeared to her that the commission and the advisory committee were pushing for either Concept C or Concept H, an even more elaborate system of loops and ramps along MacArthur Boulevard north and coming off the bridge. Ms. Lavelle also mentioned that, while some towns in New Hampshire can host car racing events and quickly move 90,000 to 100,000 vehicles on a typical weekend, Cape leaders cannot figure out a way to make the Sagamore and Bourne bridges “three lanes on, one lane off Friday and Saturday, and reverse it for Sunday” to alleviate traffic congestion. She criticized the Sagamore flyover as being “nothing but huge roadways and traffic lights.”
She also questioned how the replacement of the Sagamore rotary can be called a success.
“Sixty million dollars for the Sagamore flyover and you still have a 25-mile backup on a July 4 weekend,” she said.
Audience members asked Mr. Cannon if the Cape Cod Commission had an opinion on the relative success of the Sagamore flyover. He said that traffic on the bridge has been substantially reduced, but the real success of the flyover has been the ability of residents to reach other parts of town on weekends. He said that previously people would be stuck for hours trying to get back home.
He admitted, however, that there are still traffic congestion problems.
“I think that project was probably sold as a cure-all for the Sagamore Bridge, and I think that has proven not to be true, as we see with the backups heading over the Sagamore Bridge going northbound on any Sunday afternoon,” he said.
Mr. Cannon restated that it was not his intention, nor that of the Cape Cod Commission, to advocate for any specific concept. He said that exhibiting the concepts was merely a way to get discussion and debate underway.
“I am not pushing these in any way, shape or form,” he said.
Mr. Ewell told the audience that the role of the Cape Cod Commission is to make recommendations to the transportation advisory committee that the committee would then take to the Bourne Board of Selectmen.
“These people are not going to determine what gets done here; they’re being paid to advise us,” he said.
He also assured everyone that there would not be a “fast track solution” to the rotary.
“There is not going to be a final decision made about what to do with this rotary in the next month and a half,” he said.
A third meeting on the fate of the Bourne Rotary was to be held at Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School last night. Residents and business owners were invited to attend that meeting. The Transportation Advisory Committee will discuss thoughts and concerns raised at all three sessions during their meeting this afternoon at 3:30 PM at the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center. The public is invited to attend that meeting.