‘A long time coming’: Mattapoisett celebrates long road to bike path opening

Jun 12, 2023

MATTAPOISETT – For Mattapoisett Select Board member Jordan Collyer, the newly completed bike path connecting Goodspeed Island Road to Reservation Road was a long time coming. 

“If you asked me 19 years ago, when I was elected into office, if this was ever going to be done, my answer would have been no,” said Collyer. 

But on Monday, June 12, state and town officials, including representatives of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, gathered at the end of Reservation Road to celebrate a project 27 years in the making. 

“An incredible cast of people have worked forever on this,” said 10th Bristol Representative Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett).

Some people, like Bike Path Study Committee Chair Steven Kelleher, have worked on the Mattapoisett Bike Path from the start. Kelleher said he has served as the committee’s chair since its founding in 1996. 

Kelleher said that in the time it took to complete this portion of the bike path, five members of the Bike Path Study Committee have died, including Potter Trainer, Bill Bancroft, Gregory Parker, David Jennings and John DeCosta. 

“Then there are those that served and passed away,” he said. “I know they are looking down on us celebrating … today.”

The Mattapoisett Bike Path officially opened to the public on Friday, April 28 after the Mattapoisett Select Board voted to approve a “memorandum of understanding” with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

The memorandum protects the town by requiring that the state cover the cost of insufficient building materials for no less than 20 years.

Previously, warped planks and the Covid-19 pandemic delayed construction on the section of the bike path between Reservation Road and the end of Goodspeed Island Road.

“The [memorandum of understanding] protects us from premature failure of the decking, warping, cracking [or] anything like that for a period no less than 20 years,” said Collyer at an April 27 meeting of the Select Board. “Now if it gets banged up in a hurricane that’s a different story, but at the end of the day, if the product starts failing like it did last time we can go to the Commonwealth and they’ll be on the hook for [repairs].”

According to Straus, work on the bike path is far from over, with future plans to extend the path through Marion, Wareham and ultimately Cape Cod. 

Marion’s portion of the bike path is at a “75% design completion,” said Straus. 

“I know people were frustrated that it took us some extra months to get here to open this up,” said Straus. “But getting it done right, at least to me and the members of the Select Board and town officials, was the most important thing.”

Now, with Mattapoisett’s section of the bike path completed, cyclists from near and far can enjoy views of Eel Pond and Mattapoisett Harbor. 

“Look, look … it’s beautiful,” said Mattapoisett Select Board Chair Jodi Bauer, gesturing to the scenery. “This is for generations to come, to enjoy, it’s going to bring a lot of people to this area to check it out.”

Visitors have already started to check out the new addition to the bike path. 

Cyclists Rick Roberts and Susanne Laundry traveled to Mattapoisett from Cape Cod to enjoy an afternoon ride following the ribbon cutting ceremony. 

“It’s great doing the bike ride but also to get off your bike and walk it as well,” said Laundry. “For anyone who is into painting, photography, anything like that, it’s just gorgeous.”

Already, the Mattapoisett Bike Path welcomed almost 400 cyclists for the annual Tour de Creme bike ride in May.  

“Enjoy today and everyday, as time is very dear, and keep riding, as more bike path is yet to come,” said Kelleher.