PROVINCETOWN — The sun broke through a dense fog. The town hall clock chimed, tourists rolled suitcases down Commercial Street, and there was something new: a glass elevator glided up and down High Pole Hill.
PROVINCETOWN — Construction on the long-planned inclined elevator that will link the Bas Relief Park to the base of the Pilgrim Monument is set to begin on May 18.
The so-called Bradford Access Project has been given new life by a $4.5 million loan from the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, announced this week. Despite setbacks, including a lawsuit and a pandemic, Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum Executive Director David Weidner is optimistic about the project. He said that, pandemic willing, the inclined elevator will be completed by the 2021 season a year from now. The original plan was to have it ready for 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival here this year.
“We’re creating a brand-new front door,” Weidner said. “This is to help our institution grow, and an opportunity to connect the town to the museum.”
Weidner described the inclined elevator — also known as a funicular — as similar to a regular vertical elevator, just running at an angle. “The doors open. You push a button, the doors close, and it starts to move,” he said. “It remains flat as it moves up the hill and has 360-degree windows, so you can see the entire town.”
Cables will pull the cabin up the hill along a track. It will take two and a half minutes to reach the top.
The ride won’t be free, however. To enter the lift, passengers will have to buy an admission ticket to the museum and monument, either at the parking lot on top of the hill, at a kiosk at the bottom of the hill, or on their phones from anywhere. The ticket will act as a day pass, allowing rides all day. The current admission prices for adults, seniors, and kids are $17, $13, and $7, respectively.
Year-rounders and property owners don’t get special treatment or free rides. “We don’t have any local access built into the plan at this point,” Weidner said. “We’re really working hard on financing.”
Weidner had previously estimated the total cost of the project at about $2.2 million. The museum announced on Monday that the Hyannis-based Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod had signed on as a financial partner and would finance a $4.5 million loan.
Weidner said that the increase in costs was due to more extensive planning and regulatory work. “There was more cost on the engineering and architecture side, and the initial plan did not have as much handicap access,” he said.
The new plan includes two accessible car parking spaces and a ramp to the monument on the hilltop, and a virtual interactive display inside the museum, so that people who cannot climb the monument’s stairs can participate in a virtual reality tour of the views on top.
Weidner would not comment on whether a lawsuit filed by an abutter that was settled last year contributed to the project’s increased cost.
Plans for construction were delayed by a lawsuit filed in January 2019 by Paul Teixeira, who owns an abutting property at 116 Bradford St. Teixeira was concerned about traffic resulting from the project and the hill’s ability to support a 50-ton funicular system.
PMPM and Teixeria reached a settlement in July, and building permits were issued for the project shortly thereafter.
Funding for the project has also been provided by the Mass. Cultural Council and Mass. Development Finance Agency. The PMPM website also welcomes donations towards the project.
By creating a handicap-accessible link between Bradford Street and the museum, the project aims to “facilitate even more commerce with our local businesses and excitement for visitors,” the website states. “The Monument stands tall as a beacon of welcoming, tolerance and acceptance…. This is just the first step in a journey to transform PMPM from a local, community museum into a world-class destination for history enthusiasts.”
The inclined elevator, Weidner said, is the first phase of the PMPM campus renovation. The second phase will be focused on the museum itself.
The Pilgrim Monument will also be lit in support of pandemic front-line workers. Starting on May 1, the monument’s base will be bathed in red light for essential workers, like grocery store employees, and the belfry will be lit up in blue, for health-care workers.