WELLFLEET — The Mass. Dept. of Transportation’s plan for repaving Route 6 in Wellfleet promises to do a lot more than pour fresh asphalt on a degraded roadway. Improving accessibility for bikers and pedestrians is a big part of its Pavement Preservation Project’s aim.
But when MassDOT’s Greg Mischel presented an update on the project at an Oct. 18 meeting, he surprised the select board by describing a project starting south of the Eastham town line and ending at the intersection of Main Street and Route 6.
While the DOT plan initially included the reconstruction of the Main Street intersection, Mischel said his agency will take on that crossroads as a separate project. The reason, Mischel said, was a difference in funding sources and permitting issues between the two projects.
Select board member Kathleen Bacon said she was disappointed with the decision to stagger the two projects. And member John Wolf said he thought staging equipment and conducting two projects sounded inefficient and expensive.
Mischel assured the board, however, that the two projects will be carried out simultaneously.
Mischel said that construction will most likely begin in the spring of 2024. DOT hopes to submit a final design plan by this December and begin advertising the project in June 2023. Mischel estimated that construction will last two years, forecasting completion of the project for 2026.
The work south of Main Street will narrow the two-lane roadway, with space for a 5-foot-wide bike lane on either side of the road as well as 3-foot-wide buffer zones between the bike lanes and the main roadway.
The project will also inaugurate four new bus stops along Route 6: at the Wellfleet Drive-In, Marconi Beach Road, Old County Road, and Cove Road. The plan incorporates the construction of bus pull-off lanes at each stop so as not to obstruct passing traffic.
To accommodate the pushing back of the northern limits of the project, MassDOT’s updated plan includes extending the southern end of the project 600 feet into Eastham.
Eastham select board member Art Autorino said at the meeting that this was the first he’d heard of that part of the plan. He expressed concern over how merging the two lanes will affect traffic in Eastham. “What this is going to do is move the traffic backup south,” he said.
Mischel said that MassDOT has not completed its traffic studies for the planned merge at the Eastham-Wellfleet town line.
The Eastham Select Board will be meeting with MassDOT to discuss the effects of the project on Eastham, according to Autorino.
Mischel also told the Wellfleet board that MassDOT had decided to eliminate the repaving of Route 6 north of Main Street from its plan. The change, he said, resulted from a determination that the Route 6, Lawrence Road, Gross Hill Road, and School Street intersection required work beyond the scope of the project.
Mischel said that intersection would be completed as a separate project at a later time. He cited the complicated nature of the four-way intersection, which would require further accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists as well as the need for replacement of outdated signal equipment.
Board member Bacon wondered why the outdated traffic signal equipment was an obstacle to completing the Lawrence Road intersection. “I was led to believe that all our traffic lights were going to be upgraded,” she said. In MassDOT’s updated plan, only one signal equipment upgrade is planned — for the Marconi Beach Road intersection.
Bacon said she had hoped that resurfacing the Lawrence Road intersection would be fast-tracked after a plan for affordable housing was approved by the zoning board of appeals.
In the end, the select board agreed the project is much needed and that the overall goal to improve mobility and accessibility along Route 6 outweighs the shortfalls in the current plan.
The members hoped that MassDOT would integrate their feedback into the final design plan, which will be completed by the end of the year.