Norton Point Beach reopens to over sand permitted vehicles

Following an eight year period when passage was impossible, Norton Point beach, shown in the foreground, is once again open to over sand vehicles by permit for travel between Chappaquiddick island and Katama. — Photo by Bill Brine

The Norton Point Beach over sand vehicle (OSV) route is officially open, once again providing a land route between Chappaquiddick and Katama following an eight year hiatus.

Chris Kennedy, The Trustees of Reservations Martha’s Vineyard superintendent said the passage was reopened on Sunday. OSV drivers need to have both a Norton Point OSV permit and a Cape Poge/Wasque OSV permit if they wish to travel to or from Chappy via the Dike Bridge to Norton Point Beach, Mr. Kennedy said. The Trustees manage Norton Point beach for Dukes County.

Oversand vehicle permit fees are: $180 Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge only, $90 Norton Point Beach resident permit only (vehicle must be registered on Martha’s Vineyard), and $140 Norton Point non-resident permit. Combination permits for both Norton Point Beach and Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge are $300 for vehicles not registered on Martha’s Vineyard and $250 for vehicles registered on Martha’s Vineyard.

People who wish to travel to or from Chappy via the beach must have a combination permit on the vehicle, Mr. Kennedy said.

For the past eight years Chappaquiddick was an island in name as well as fact, cut off from the rest of Edgartown by a breach in the two-mile Norton Point Beach that separates Katama Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

The re-established land route creates an additional complication for Peter Wells, owner of the Chappy ferry, which for the past eight years provided the only means of vehicle transport across the harbor. Mr. Welles is back to handing out two-way tickets.

In April 2007, a one-two punch of storm-driven ocean waves and powerful spring tides knocked open a cut in the beach. The result was two long, narrow spits of sand stretching east and west toward one another. The cut continued to migrate eastward to Wasque Point, in a natural cycle recorded many times in the past four centuries.