Petition seeks to save Woods Hole from SSA development

At left: Recently SSA traffic backed up beyond Church Street, forcing an ambulance to drive into oncoming SSA traffic exiting Woods Hole. To the right: An aerial view of SSA's three new slips which extend 90 feet into public navigable harbor waterways. — Courtesy Suzanne Kuffler

To the Editor: 

In order to save Woods Hole village from Steamship Authority overdevelopment, we are circulating a petition,, that to date has 240 signatures.

We want a sustainable plan that supports the original Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Woods

Hole Steamship Authority’s (SSA) mission to provide Martha’s Vineyard’s residents safe and easily accessible travel, while providing for their necessities within the framework of sustainability on both sides of the water. Sustainability implies respect for the nature of residential neighborhoods as well. An alternate port for non-time-sensitive freight and additional passenger and car transit access for some travelers to Martha’s Vineyard would be a start to relieving congestion, noise, and pollution. Everyone from Bourne to the port area will benefit.

The current development plans will turn a village site into a big business. This will not work for the benefit of everyone. The original mission of the SSA is service. The founding SSA document (1960) notes that the operating model is for the benefit of all members of the commonwealth. Woods Hole is a bottleneck.

We do not want the ever-increasing SSA traffic congestion on our country roads and in our tiny village. In 2019, 141,292 trucks and 414,967 cars (556,259 total), with the subtotal from June through September of 249,548 cars and trucks entering and exiting Woods Hole to take ferries. In addition, daily transiting the village are more than 166 SSA-associated vehicles, which do not get onto ferries. All combined, local plus SSA traffic has become overwhelming. Road safety, including the passage of emergency vehicles, is just one aspect.

We do not want to continue with the ongoing and increasing problems caused by massive SSA traffic, an unnavigable sea of asphalt, the proposed oversize paper ticketing building in an electronic reservation era, port area pollution, noise, missed ferry trips by those with reservations, the shipment of noncritical freight, and circumscribed access to the Post Office and local businesses.

If community concerns are not integrated into the design, for the next 100 years, Woods Hole will be living with the serious negative impact of an unsustainable transportation project that overrides local infrastructure capacity, and the local way of life. One issue is sleep disruption at early hours of the morning from freight traffic trying to make the 5:30 ferry, a run impacting hundreds of residents along the 17-mile route to the terminal from Bourne Bridge. Residents object to the disturbance, and would like this run eliminated and moved forward. We also know from observing Stop & Shop trucks that there is more flexibility in when to ship in food supplies than is currently acknowledged by the SSA.

We would appreciate your support for both our petition to the SSA and separately for our community comments, which are still waiting for more detailed and responsive answers from the Steamship Authority.

Suzanne Kuffler
Woods Hole