Opinion: Bike path worth waiting for

Apr 1, 2022

To the Editor:

The Mattapoisett Bike Path Study Committee has been working with the town select board to complete the 4.6-mile bike path in Mattapoisett for 25 years. Currently a common question is, “Why is it taking so long to complete Phase 1B, the section from Mattapoisett Neck Road to Railroad Avenue?”

Quite simply, this portion of the rail trail project is the responsibility of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which means MassDOT is fully in charge of construction, not the town. 

In 2010, Mattapoisett Rail Trail was accepted into the Massachusetts’ Transportation Improvement Plan funding program to have Phase 1B built. The TIP funding source is an agreement that the state will pay for all construction costs, provided the town pays for a completed design that meets the state’s and federal standards. Design decisions are influenced, but not determined, by the town. It's important to understand that the town does not manage or pay for construction.

 Over the past few months, the town administration has publicly stated it is working with MassDOT to correct the planking issues on the section of the path from Good Speed Island to Reservation Road and that the town will not accept the project from the state until it meets the town’s standards. The costs associated with this effort will continue to be paid by MassDOT. 

This committee supports the town officials in their decision not to take responsibility for any of Phase 1B until the corrective measures for the design defects are fully vetted, approved, and implemented. We view this approach to be prudent and fiscally sound. 

Regarding the time frame for completion: At a recent public meeting, Town Administrator Mike Lorenco stated that new planking is being tested and the project could be completed within the next 12 to 18 months. We recognize this process will take time and patience but when finished Mattapoisett’s Rail Trail will be a beautiful asset to our town.

Steve Kelleher

Chairperson, Mattapoisett’s Bike Path Study Committee