Commission Seeks Input on Shining Sea Bike Path Study

BARNSTABLE – The Cape Cod Commission released a study this month on how to connect two Upper Cape bike paths and the organization is looking for input from the public.

The study examines the feasibility of connecting the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth and the Cape Cod Canal bike path in Bourne.

The Commission has discussed the possibility of using over 6 miles of existing rail line from North Falmouth to the canal in Bourne with state and local officials, agencies and advocacy groups.

“It would essentially connect Woods Hole all the way to North Falmouth – all the way to the canal bike path in Bourne,” said Glenn Cannon, the Cape Cod Commission’s technical services director. “And really from there you would be able to go all the way over to the Sandwich Marina.”

Cannon said it’s an exciting proposal.

“You’d have a safe alternative for families and children to ride their bikes all the way from Woods Hole to the Sandwich Marina,” he said.

The recently released study details two proposed options to connect the two trails.

The “rail-to-trail” option would replace the existing train rails with a paved path with upgrades made to existing bridge crossings.

The second options would be “rail-with-trail.” This option construct a new paved path adjacent to the existing rail lines.

Replacing the existing rail lines may be difficult because they are still used to transport materials to and from Joint Base Cape Cod in emergency situations and the regional transfer station still has plans to use the line to haul trash or construction debris.

“Removing the rail line is a lot cheaper for constructing the bike path because you get to reuse the bridges that the trains are using today,” Cannon said. “Building new bridges beside the rail line for a new bike path would cost substantially more money.”

Cannon said environmental concerns would also need to be looked at as the project moves forward.

“Some of these waterways are constrained by the rail line,” Cannon said. “They clearing cut off some of the flushing that happens in some of these estuaries.”

The Commission’s study can be downloaded from www.capecodcommission.org/bikeped and the deadline to submit public comment is March 15.

Comments may be submitted by email to [email protected] or by mail to Cape Cod Commission Shining Sea Bikeway Study, C/O Glenn Cannon – Technical Services Director, P.O. Box 226, Barnstable, MA 02630.

The plan to connect the two Upper Cape bike paths is part of a larger project to connect bike trails from Woods Hole all the way to Provincetown.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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