Chappy considers wetlands, crossings, in bike path design

Northeastern University engineering students presented a new version of their design for a bike path on Chappaquiddick, estimating that it would cost $1.3 million to $1.4 million to build. Backers of a bike path had asked the students to study design options for a path from the ferry, along Chappaquiddick Road and Dike Road all the way to Dike Bridge, as part of their college course work.

More than 30 people attended the presentation at the Chappaquiddick Community Center. They responded to the engineering design with a mix of approval and skepticism, each strongly held, as residents continue a skirmish that dates back more than three decades.

The students presented their preliminary plan on February 26. The new elements of the design dealt with justification for siting the path on the north side of the roadway, how the bike path would cross driveways and intersections, and how it would encroach on wetlands.

The students chose to place the path on the north side of the roadway based on their calculation that there are 2,400 feet of room within the town’s right of way on the north side, that it would cross 29 driveways and no major intersections, and that it would encroach on 650 feet of wetlands.

If built on the south side of the road, the students found 800 feet available within the right of way, 16 driveways, four intersections, and 1,600 feet of wetlands.

Several people disputed the number of driveways and intersections. Chappy resident Bob Clay said he counted 64 roads and driveways on the north side of Chappaquiddick Road and Dike Road, and 40 roads and driveways on the south side.

“If you’re making those bicycles cross a driveway,” Mr. Clay said. “That’s what creates the danger.”

The student design call for brick “pavers” where the paved path crosses dirt driveways or roads. The design also called for sheet piling to create extra space where the bike path would cross wetlands. The students proposed driving thin steel plates vertically into the wetlands, backfilling with material to create the space needed for the eight-foot path and buffer zones.

Curry Jones, who said he was involved in efforts to create a bike path dating back to 1985, applauded the design. “One of the reasons we quit is because we didn’t have this plan,” Mr. Jones said. “This is a hell of a plan, it gives each of us a chance to look at every inch of the damn thing.

Within the next month, the engineering group expects to release the results of a mailed opinion survey of Chappaquiddick residents, measuring their views on the bike path.