Opponents of Service Road Tree-cutting Cite Noise, Safety

trees on capeSANDWICH – Over four miles of trees sitting on the north side of Service Road from Sandwich to Barnstable will be taken down to clear the path for a new gas line to be installed.

Last Thursday morning, the Energy Facility Siting Board approved the project change with the pipeline being located north of Service Road, within ten to 15 feet of the north shoulder.

State Representative Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich), who represents the Fifth Barnstable District where the tree clearing is planned, said neighbors have a number of concerns about the project.

The first, he said, is safety, because there is no egress from their neighborhoods except  via Service Road.

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“There’s no back way out of these neighborhoods,” he said.

“They were concerned about taking down all of these trees which would make Route 6 much more visible and they were also concerned about sound problems that could be created by the same clearing of those trees,” he said.

Hunt is helping to advocate for his constituents who are opposed to the plan.

The clearing has been planned for some time though neighbors have been concerned since the project was first announced about safety issues because the gas line would be located close to homes.

Hunt said that it was back in 2006 that the Energy Facility Siting Board approved the route of a 20-inch high pressure gas main to go along the Service Road through the Town of Sandwich and into West Barnstable.

A couple of years ago, Hunt recalled, there was a project change that was filed to relocate the pipeline from underneath the paved roadway to north of Service Road within 10 to 15 feet of the north shoulder.

With respect to the tree-clearing, Hunt said, he made a pitch to the siting board to leave the 2006 decision in place which would have the pipeline go under the paved portion of the Service Road, so that trees would not need to be removed.

One of the arguments that the company made was that the director of the Sandwich Water District had said that there is a water main under the roadway that is encased in cement that has asbestos in it. He was arguing that it would be better from a safety standpoint if the pipeline were put north of Service Road rather than closer to that water main.

“That was a safety concern and I do understand that,” he said.

But he said the plans by National Grid show the gas pipeline going underneath the roadway in up to 11 places along the road.

“I argued that we’re still going to have that safety issue but taking down all those trees is something that’s really unnecessary,” he said.

There will be a meeting on August 25 at the Sandwich Human Services building at 7 p.m. with the Sandwich Tree Warden to talk about the removal of those trees. National Grid personnel will be at that meeting.