Old Slough Road reconstruction could provide lifeline to coastal residents

Jan 10, 2023

MATTAPOISETT — Residents who live at Point Connett and Angelica Point in Mattapoisett know to expect cool sea breezes, ocean views, a quiet neighborhood and an increased risk of coastal flooding. 

The only way in or out of these scenic neighborhoods is Angelica Avenue, which, according to recent reports, is at a high risk of flooding during coastal storms. 

Flooding along Angelica Avenue would leave around 130 households stranded and emergency services unable to access the area, according to Mattapoisett Town Administrator Mike Lorenco. 

To solve this problem, the Mattapoisett Select Board, in conjunction with the Mattapoisett Fire Department, Mattapoisett Highway Department and Mattapoisett Land Trust, proposed restoring Old Slough Road, a 213-year-old path that is currently unpaved, narrow and muddy.

“The marsh on Angelica Ave, if that floods out, they’ve got no way of getting the people out,” said Mattapoisett Conservation Commission Member David Lawrence. “I’m not saying it's ever flooded before, but I think it’s a good project.”

Old Slough Road runs from Angelica Avenue in the south to Bowman Road in the north. The road will see an approximate 10-foot change in elevation, said Ken Motta, senior project manager with Field Engineering, the firm contracted by the town for this project.

Motta added that the difference in elevation between the coast and the southern entrance to Old Slough Road is about 340 feet, enough to keep the proposed road clear of flooding.

According to projections from the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, even a Category 4 hurricane wouldn’t cause flooding along Old Slough Road. 

This wouldn’t be the first time that Old Slough Road was used as an emergency evacuation route. 

“The Town has letters that date back several decades which denote that the Mattapoisett Selectmen used Old Slough Road as an emergency access route,” said Lorenco. “We believe the route has not been used since approximately 1985 and since then has fallen in disrepair due to a lack of use and maintenance.”  

It would cost over $600,000 to reconstruct Old Slough Road, Lorenco said. The town has already received two grants from the Coastal Resilience Grant Program. One $29,400 grant was for the design and engineering of the emergency access route, and another grant of $585,000 will be used to complete the permitting, bid documents and construction of the roadway.

The grants will cover the cost of the project and the town will provide labor on the project in-kind, said Lorenco.

According to a report from the Town of Mattapoisett, the project will see Old Slough Road take up much of its original 1810 footprint, with some deviations to avoid wetland areas and to allow more gradual turns suitable for emergency vehicles.

“The road would have to be improved and widened to accommodate current public safety vehicles, such as a fire engine, and be useful during an emergency,” said Lorenco.

The road will not become a public way, said Motta. Gates will be installed at the top and bottom of Old Slough Road to prevent motor vehicle access.

A public hearing for the Old Slough Road project will likely be held during the Tuesday, Jan. 24 meeting of the Mattapoisett Select Board, said Lorenco.