Funding of Mattapoisett road project comes into question at MassDOT info meeting

Jun 18, 2024

MATTAPOISETT — Mattapoisett Town Administrator Mike Lorenco was "perfectly honest" during a June 18 meeting held by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation regarding a plan to renovate village streets.

"If this project moves forward, you're not saving all of the trees,” he said. “That's an impossibility."

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation held an informational meeting to discuss the 25% design stage of a proposed project to reconstruct streets in Mattapoisett Village.

The project has generated controversy and discussion due to the potential removal of trees along the corridor of the project, which is also proposed to construct sidewalks compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and upgrade the drainage networks on Main Street, Water Street, Beacon Street and Marion Road among other changes.

Mattapoisett resident John O’Reilly asked how changes proposed by town residents could affect the project’s timeline.

“I’d like the job to get done some day before I die,” he said.

Mattapoisett applied for the project in 2013, while construction is anticipated to begin in 2028, according to the Department of Transportation.

“My impression is the roads and the sidewalks are a scar,” he said. “They look terrible, and it’s unsafe in this town, particularly in the summer. We’ve got to get this project done some time.”

Lorenco said any changes to the plan would push back both the project timeline and its cost.

The project is estimated to cost $16 million, funded entirely by federal and state funds, according to the Department of Transportation.

Gareth Saunders, representing legislative affairs for the Department of Transportation said “there’s a lot of competition for federal and state dollars.”

The Department of Transportation “expects” the municipality to “be ready” the year the project’s construction is anticipated to begin, he said.

If the town isn’t ready, it’s possible to lose funding, according to Saunders.

“This is a very competitive process for the funding, and you’re competing against all the towns and cities in Massachusetts, so just keep that in mind,” Saunders said.

Mattapoisett resident Frances McIntyre asked “whether the decision to remove the trees has already been made.”

The answer was no, according to Mattapoisett Select Board member Tyler Macallister.

“Perhaps implicit in my question is I think it’s extremely important that the town choose not to remove the trees for the economic impacts and benefits of those trees, notwithstanding aesthetic pleasures that they provide,” McIntyre said.

The project is expected to remove 27 trees, while 34 trees are planned to be planted along the affected corridor, according to the Department of Transportation.