Showing posts with label route 6. Show all posts
Showing posts with label route 6. Show all posts

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fast Food Oversaturation In Wareham?

If your doctor told you that you needed more cholesterol, you might want to get into the Fatmobile and bring the pod to East Wareham.

Sonic Drive-In, an Oklahoma-based restaurant chain that banks much green in the South, is slowly edging into Massachusetts. They have set their sites on Wareham, via the Patel family, owners of a bunch of Taunton-area convenience stores.

We had to go to Somerset to get these pics, but of course you know that I stopped for a salad on the way and didn't eat any artery-clogging fast food. We include the pictures for SE Massachusetts people who have never been to a Sonic. They're rare around here.

The same area of Wareham is also getting an Olive Garden.

As near as I can tell, the Sonic is going onto the property currently occupied by an oil-change shop, so your fries will have a Pennzoil taste to them. The Olive Garden is said to be going across the street from Barnacle Bill's.

How much is too much?

A lonely stretch of East Wareham is now host to a veritable takeout Mecca. You can get Burger King, Subway, McDonald's, D'Angelo's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Wendy's, Krua Thai, Pizza Boy, Rice Bowl and Dunkin Donuts. I'm not throwing Papa Gino's, Lindsay's or Bailey's into the mix, as you can't order from your car there. I'm pretty sure that the 99 only closed because the building floods in heavy rains.

It's the Cardiac Highway!

We're not Food Snobbing anyone. Stephen, one of our writers, hasn't cooked his own food since 2011 or so. However, about one hundred yards of East Wareham, a depressed region of a small town, now has every fast food place in the Northeast.

They could use a White Castle or a Carl Jr's/Hardee's, but there is only so much Cranberry Highway.

Buzzards Bay had a Burger King fail, which isn't easy. Other than the Hooters: Cape Cod and the Falmouth/Kingston Pizza Huts, it is the most high profile failure of a major fast food chain in the area.

You order off this screen, into the sort of speaker that you used to see at drive-in theaters. Someone skates out with it, and you get into the goods. I need both glasses and a taller car.

Jessica and I passed on the tater tots, as I ate them every day for 4 years in high school. I got the SuperSonic Bacon Double Cheeseburger (pictures below), which came with fries and a soda for about $10. The burger was a-ight, but the fries were Ore-Ida quality.

My meal had over 1500 calories and 2200 milligrams of sodium before I counted the milkshake (it had about 3000 calories with the milkshake... meanwhile, famine victims in refugee camps are happy to get 1200 calories a day), and the unknowable portion sizes makes it impossible to gauge how many calories I stole from Jessica's food. The recommended daily allowance for sodium is 3400 mg, but I consider that to be a piddling sum ascribed to a 105 pound woman. I'm a slim 240 man, so I should get to have twice as much sodium as mortals are allowed. I plan on buying a salt lick and just posting it up in my office somewhere.

I didn't get a pic of it, but when I took the bun and tomato off of the burger, it looked somewhat like William Dafoe.

Jessica got the Chicken Strips Sampler Platter, which was 3 whack strips, more Ore-Ida fries, and onion ring and some toast. That also ran ten bucks, and you can see it below somewhere.

Jessica's chicken did not look like a celebrity.

My man Hardcore Logo got the Chicken Strips Kids Meal, which came with a shake and some Justice League stickers. He didn't let me steal any of it.

The rollerskater (who was a guy) was friendly enough. He's out hustling for his dollar, so I'm not making fun of him. I have had worse jobs. He was the first fast food employee I have ever tipped, aside from the Dunkin' and Marylou's girls.

That's your restaurant review. I made my journalistic bones as a sportswriter. Stacey's French, but she also isn't writing this article. We did go from Cape Cod to Somerset for these pictures, so we deserve some credit.

They must have been out of the Brazilian Man rollerskating waitress neon signs, which is understandable.

Does the population of Wareham have enough kids who know how to roller skate to staff a Sonic these days? You may not want to go there until the girls get their skating legs under them, lest you get a milkshake to the face (doh!) like the cop in the Happy Days intro.

Will this be enough for Sonic- who for some reason can't seem to come to some sort of spokesmanship agreement with the Sega hedgehog- to hold up on the Cranberry Highway against the heavyweights?

We'll goof on the Olive Garden in some future article where we have pictures of one. We consider going to an Olive Garden for Italian food to be akin to going to Red Lobster for seafood. It works if you don't have Italians around to call BS on it.

Olive Garden competing against Mezza Luna should be a devastating loss, but people like franchises. Don't count the OG out of it by any means.

Here's Jesse's dinner. I stole her onion rings before the picture could be taken... because I'm eeeeeevil.

Note that Sonic and Olive Garden are two more businesses who declined to move into (and perhaps revive) the Main Street area of Buzzards Bay. The only big names willing to dance with Buzzards Bay are Subway and Dunkin' Donuts, and we know that Dunkin' would set up in Aleppo if they were allowed.

How much fast food can one region consume? Will the added presence of Sonic be too much for BK or lil' Miss Wendy to bear? Wendy's in Wareham is sort of smelly, and Sonic may just walk them out behind the barn and put them out of their misery.

... or maybe Wareham needs more fast food? Does more fast food exist? Wahlburgers may be a bit high end. I'm not sure if Jack In The Box still exists. In-n-Out Burger or Phatburger (Fatburger?) may not make it here. I'm not sure if dropping a White Castle in Buzzards Bay or East Wareham works, especially for B Double. Chick Fil-A will help along people looking for a less gay-friendly chicken sandwich, but would you run the Bourne rotary for one?

Will the East Wareham economy survive if it is reduced to a bunch of people selling shoddy hamburgers to each other? If that happens, will employees eventually just be paid in hamburgers?

Will the very town of Wareham fracture along supper preference lines, with the higher-end West Ham and their Longhouses and Red Robins break away from their more ghetto McChicken-eating cousins in East Wareham?

Only time will tell.

Playing ring toss with onion rings makes the hardened arteries well worth it.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Flooded Cranberry Highway Impassable In Spots

Route 6/28 through Wareham, aka The Cranberry Highway, is impassable for all but the highest-profile of vehicles.

Drenching rains are pouring down on the 'Ham, and the area in front of the old 99 is an urban river.

This is the second time this week that the Cran has been too flooded to drive through. Any good rain does it these days.

Note that this is a major evacuation route for Buzzards Bay and Wareham, especially Onset, in the event of a hurricane. You'll want to get ghost early if your evacuation plans include East Wareham,

We'll be back if an update is necessary.

Click the "East Wareham" link at the bottom of the article for the map location of the flooded road.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cranberry Highway Flooding Becoming A Chronic Problem

This picture was taken from where the old 99 Restaurant was on the Cranberry Highway in Wareham.

The town may have a bit of a problem here. This is the main road in East Wareham.

Granted, we had furious rainfall yesterday. However, this has been a long-running problem in the area.

I was driving in this area during Hurricane Irene, when 7 inches of rain fell. The flooding, which only covered a hundred yards of Cranberry Highway in yesterday's event. spilled into the Wal-Mart parking lot. I saw a people who were nearly washed away by it.

The road was impassable, and flooding was bad enough that a car was stranded and abandoned by the 7-11. I saw one guy stall out in the mess yesterday, and he had to shove his car out of the water.

I'm guessing at this, but Dick's Pond and Sand Pond may also be prone to sending their overflow into the Cranberry Highway, as the road flooding I have seen along this road over the years went down near each them.

This could be a major problem if a hurricane strikes us full-bore. This road, which is pretty far back from the sea and was flooded yesterday by rainwater, is the only way to evacuate Onset.

I have no idea how to fix stuff like this, but someone must. It seems to be a pretty major problem.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Rainy Memorial Day Traffic Notes And Gas Prices For Cape Cod

It is said that, much like how the Eskimo has 200 words for snow, residents of Bourne have hundreds of different classifications for traffic. They distinguish between weekend and weekday traffic, summer and winter traffic, rain/snow/sun traffic and holiday traffic.

Today is one of those subsets... Rainy Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is when summer starts on Cape Cod. Summer people opening their cottages, winter cottage rentals departing, hotels getting summer volume, places with SEE YOU NEXT SUMMER signs un-shuttering, old people smart enough to come off-season arriving... all of the little omens that the locals know of are in effect.

Traffic heading on-Cape was heavy on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Many of those people have to be on the mainland by Tuesday, and most of them will be making the Drang nach Westen at some point today.

Again, traffic is always going to be bad on Memorial Day Monday. I know it sucks right now, and I haven't opened Google Traffic since I got home from lunch. However, as the list of services offered by the Mustang Ranch in North Las Vegas tells you, there are different kinds of sucking. Allow me to explain.

A nice, sunny Memorial Day means that everyone bails out in the evening, after a day at the beach, a nice dinner and some time spent packing. This has a tendency to put them on the road at the same time. This is where you get those 15 mile traffic jams that Cape Cod is famous for.

A rainy Memorial Day breaks the people up a bit, leading to a heavy-but-lesser flow of the day-long variety. I was writing this article at 8 AM, and there was substantial traffic heading off-Cape even then. Those were the people who saw a rainy Memorial Day coming and opted to bail ahead of the traffic, the Cape Cod version of a guy sneaking out of a Pats game when we're up 42-10 after 50 minutes. Beat the traffic, before it beats you.

Other people, especially those who rented the place they were staying at all weekend, are determined to make a day of it. Cape Cod has shops, museums, galleries, restaurants and all sorts of stuff with a roof over it to pass the time. This tendency to stick it out is not restricted to those who have or don't have children.

Cape Cod will get day-trippers, even with this rotten weather. Some and perhaps many grandfathers who were alive when Hurricane Donna came ashore don't consider this to be real rain, and will insist on hosting a barbecue in it. This effect is limited. We've been keeping an eye on traffic heading both on and off-Cape for most of the day, and there has been no problem at all getting on to Cape Cod.

Even with the people bailing out early, there should be some heavy traffic tonight. The smart people leave early Tuesday morning, but you'll see plenty of the Other Type as you crawl up Route 6 tonight.

We've already had some traffic difficulty, as heavy rains flooded the Cranberry Highway up by the old 99. The road, which was having traffic diverted through the Stop & Shop plaza, is now open.

Note that there comes a time, usually in the Church hours of the morning, where you are under a lesser risk of encountering an impaired driver. Not too long after that, the risk goes up, and it gets to roll-them-dice levels on days where disappointed tourists have been drinking all day.

If you must go, don't forget to fuel up! You don't want to run out of gas in a ten mile bumper-y-bumper traffic jam while a tropical storm is pouring water up from Carolina at you. Here are the best (reported) prices for each Cape Cod town.

Eastham: $2.39 a gallon, Tedeschi's, Vandale Circle

Orleans, $2.34/gallon, Cumberland Farms, Route 6A

Chatham, $2.31, Cumberland Farms, Main Street and Roundabout Gas, Main Street

Brewster, $2.36, Cumberland Farms, Main Street

Harwich, $2.32, Harwich Gas And Propane

Dennis, $2.23, Mobil, East-West Dennis Road

Yarmouth, $2.29, Speedway, Main Street and Cape Cod Farms, Main Street

Barnstable, $2.29, Sunoco, Falmouth Road and Gulf, Falmouth Road

Hyannis, $2.26, Airport Gas, Mary Dunn Road

Mashpee, $2.26, Stop & Shop, Falmouth Road

Sandwich, $2.34, Shell, Route 6A

Bourne (Capeside), $2.35, Mobil, Clay Pond Road

Bourne (Mainland), $2.26, Bay Village Full Serve, Main Street

Wareham, $2.23, Speedway, Main Street and Joe's Gas, Main Street

Plymouth, $1.89, Mobil, South Street

3 PM UPDATE: Traffic on Route 6 heading off-Cape is stretched back to Exit 6, while traffic on 28 is jammed back to the Otis Rotary.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Death Row? Dividing The Scenic Highway...

The Scenic Highway in Bourne may be undergoing some major changes, according to Wicked Local Sandwich.

The Scenic Highway, as you know, is the 4.5 mile section of Route 6 that runs along the Cape Cod Canal between the Bourne Bridge and the Sagamore Bridge in mainland Bourne. It eventually becomes the Cranberry Highway, but that's Wareham's problem.

The Scenic Highway's problem is that it is undivided. The only things stopping you from using all four lanes to weave through summer traffic are Law and Imagination. The potential for head-on collisions is staggering. The downhill/northbound part just before the Herring Run rest area traffic lights might be the worst section of road on Cape Cod in a snowstorm.

Why, just yesterday, I saw a northbound fuel truck with 55000 gallons of gasoline pass within one nanometre of a southbound 18 wheeler truck entirely devoted to delivering Bic lighters to various liquor and convenience stores in the area. The potential explosion would have flattened Buzzards Bay and took down the Bourne Bridge. A nanometre is a unit of measurement equivalent to one billionth of a metre.

It's only a matter of time before we have some terrible accident like that, or one like the rejected-by-staff example where an unfortunate collision causes a truck full of liquid nitrogen to disgorge into a bus full of of church-picnic nuns and orphans. When the accident does happen, people are going to look back and ask "What could have been done to prevent this?"

One thing that we could do involves Jersey Barriers. Now, you should already know that a Jersey Barrier is not when a corpulent Governor puts a bunch of DPW trucks on the one bridge leading in to your town. No, these are modular concrete or plastic barriers used to divide traffic lanes.

Laying a line of these things down the Scenic Highway would vastly lower the chance of head-on crashes, the big killer of the Oops industry. The police, who have to clean these messes up, agree. When asked about the environmental impact of the Jersey Barriers, one Bourne cop told WLS to "paint it green."

Speaking of green, those barriers don't just sprout up on their own. Funding would be needed, not an easy thing to get these days. They're already talking about a permatax (in the form of a toll) on any third bridge project.

Patrick Ellis, a Sandwich selectman who has run a business in the area for years, also sits as the Upper Cape representative on the Metropolitan Planning Organization. He thinks that getting the project on the Transportation Improvement Program will open up the possibility of federal funding.

Granted, we still have to pay for federal funding stuff via taxes, but it's a much larger pool of "we" when we go national instead of local.

I'm not sure if we could get the fancy, HOV lane style of movable Jersey barriers. I'm not sure if they'd help at all, to be honest. Our worst traffic jams seem to be when the traffic is coming fro all directions, anyhow.

There would be a learning curve. People may also get a bit gun-shy when driving near barriers. Many people think that the prominent sidewalk is what slows down traffic on the bridges.

 Either way, you'll be hearing about the Jersey barrier idea again, and it may become a fact of life in the upcoming years.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Top Collision Locations On Cape Cod

Cape Cod is very traffic-driven, as most tourist places tend to be. I lived in Duxbury and Monponsett, and neither one counted traffic as a major town issue. Bourne, where I live now, is dominated by our traffic. Our traffic dictates how residents live their lives on several days of the week, especially in summer.

Our traffic is unique compared to other towns, in that we get people from other states in large volume. Pull out onto Rte. 28, and you'll be surrounded by Massholes,  smattering of New Yorkers, some Connecticuts, a few northern Yankees, and a mixed nuts ensemble of people from various other states and countries.

These people are dumped onto a variety of Suicide Alleys, make-your-own-law rotaries, narrow bridges, visibility-cluttering business districts and windy cow paths.

Of course they are going to crash into each other now and then.

The Cape Cod Commission was nice enough to post some stats on accidents that occur on Cape Cod roads. They gathered stats by Number Of Accidents, Property Damage, Crash Rate and Property Damage rate. Long story short, they tell you where you are most likely to have an accident on Cape Cod.

The info is old (2010, updated  in 2012), so take anything we say here more as a guideline than as current, absolute truth. The numbers themselves are small enough that a good multiple car crash or two could suddenly jack a middling contender up the rankings into a Trump-like leadership slot.

Rather than slogging through 100 entries with me trying to riff on particular roads, we'll just cherry-pick good stuff for you.

- Remember, the Cape and Islands lay claim to one of America's most notorious car crashes... the Chappaquidick bridge departure that essentially put a ceiling of "Senator" on post-JFK Camelot.

- I don't know which car crash would be the most notorious in American history.

James Dean's death was huge. Jayne Mansfield's scalping is why those little bars on the lower rear end of big trucks are called "Mansfield bars." Lady Diana ate some car parts as a last meal, but that was in Old England (editor's note: France), not New England.

I'm sure that some drunk smashed into a church group bus somewhere sometime, that would get up in the rankings. Tim "Crash" Murray got his nickname wrecking a car. I know what "affluenza" is because of a car crash.

Sam Kinison died in a car wreck, as did Paul Walker. Dale Earnhardt Sr. (even I, a non-NASCAR fan, refer to this man conversationally as "Dale Senior") and Kenny Irwin Jr also died in the saddle.

Any Southern snowfall threatens to add to the list.

- I also found this map with little dots representing car crashes. Just looking at that, you get the sense that the worst spot is the run of Route 28 from Falmouth through Yarmouth. Hyannis, which actually owns cluster-dots, rules the roost.

- Suicide Alley is not impressive at all on this map.

- I consider shattered brake light glass to be a viable addition to a sea-glass collection, as long as the glass somehow made it to the ocean and then the beach somehow.

- These maps need to be viewed in the Gestalt to get the true vibe. There are differences between a love tap and a crash that, say, drowns your secretary. There are also highly-used roads that have lots of accidents, but you then see side streets representing hard if they feature a tricky intersection.

- No one, to my knowledge, has managed to drive off of the Sagamore or Bourne Bridges. Some old-schooler may be able to contest this claim, however.

- Our leader for Number Of Crashes is Route 6, the Mid-Cape Highway. Various sections of this road hold #1,4,5,6 and 7 spots in the Total Crashes rankings.

- Exit 6 on Route 6 (sorry, I don't know which direction) had 128 crashes in this period of measurement. The next highest, Exit 9, only had 99. You're dropping into the 50s and 40s before you leave the top fifteen.

- Bourne, which is the feeder tube for Cape Cod, represents hard. This is even more of a truth when you start getting into Rates rather than Totals. Bourne has the #3, 8, 9 and 13 spots in Number Of Crashes rankings. Her spot with the most crashes is the Otis Rotary.

- I could be wrong, but the rotary Most Crash rankings go the Otis Rotary, the Bourne Bridge Rotary, the Belmont Circle Rotary (Bourne owns the top 3 most dangerous rotaries on Cabo Coddo), the Airport Rotary and the Eastham Rotary.

- Sandwich Road is a dangerous place, even after I realize that there's one in Falmouth, too.

- Yarmouth moves up in the rankings once you factor in property damage costs. Hyannis and Bourne wreck ore cars, but the outer Cape wrecks nicer cars.

- Property damage costs also may be where Suicide Alley asserts herself. They only had 36 deaths there in 10 years or so, but they were head-on, total-the-car sort of deaths. I don't have a Fatality list for all of Cape Cod, which is where Sue might also assert herself.

-  Crash Rate is where the rankings get shook up. It is my opinion- and remember, I just started studying this stuff aa few hours ago- that Crash Rate is the best indicator of a dangerous road. Busier roads have more accidents, but they might not be as dangerous. Many more people watched this video than this video, and the size of the pool for Video One may mean that more people were offended by Miley's work than were offended by the Paris video... even though the Paris video is far more offensive. The same goes with roads and inherent danger.

- The Otis Rotary seizes the top spot for Crash Rate, knocking Exit/Route 6 down to 3rd place. Little-used (17 accidents) Route 39 is second. Route 124 is 5th.

- The exit in Sandwich at Chase Road, #9 in property damage totals, is just #47 in crash rate.

- The worst crash I ever saw ws that fuel truck that flipped over into the Bourne Rotary last winter. It had the huge-truck-crashing props, as well as the spilled-fuel aspect. I only moved down here in 2005, though.

- Feel free to tell us about the worst accident you have ever seen on Cape Cod in the comments below.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

For Whom The Bridge Tolls: Thoughts On A New Cape Cod Canal Bridge

Let's start with some numbers:

Bourne Bridge
Year round daily average (2011) = 42,505 vehicles
Summer daily average = 58,467

Sagamore Bridge
Year round daily average = 51,489
Summer daily average = 70,674

Those numbers lead to impassable traffic jams, jams where ten mile drives take 3 hours.

You've all heard the war stories. "25 mile backups during Hurricane Bob," or "90 minutes from the the 6A/130 intersection to the Sagamore Bridge during the Mother's Day Massacre of 2012."

Bourne residents literally can't go anywhere and hope to come back on Friday afternoons, Saturday/Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, during the Monday commute, and/or during any holiday/event.

Emergency evacuation is impossible, property values suffer, the quality of life is lowered, and the last sentence of the previous paragraph is literally saying "as a Bourne resident, you sacrifice a sizable % of your waking life to traffic."

This would be tolerable in Boston, where there are a million people zipping about. It shouldn't be the case in Buzzards Bay, where 3000 souls can be found on any given day. It makes me want to scream at someone more than I care to admit.

Here's how I see it....

* We need a third bridge.

* We need a third road leading up to and away from that bridge.

* If we want it, we'll have to pay for it.

* We'll pay for it with a toll bridge.

* The tolls will be there forever, even after the bridge is paid off.

* Prices will increase as businesses pass the toll costs onto the consumers.

* We shall eventually pay billions for a $300 million bridge.

* Splitting traffic up at the Christmas Tree Shop and then merging it back together 400 yards across the Canal will not resolve our traffic problems. It may in fact make it worse.

* The bridge will not meet the stated goal of easing traffic volume at all, and it serves no other purpose.

* We'll pay for this useless bridge for the rest of our lives and the lives of our descendants.

* If we don't do something, this nightmare is imminent.

* It seems to have fallen to me to brainstorm something.

I'm not picking on MA State Rep. Randy Hunt or Cape Cod Commission CEO Wendy Northcross there. Randy is obviously putting thought and effort into the problem, and Wendy answered almost everything I asked her about the topic. They just don't seem to see the basic problems inherent in this situation, or they feel that the problems are tenable and/or unavoidable.

Pols are sort of bound by what they think they can sell in Washington or the State House. They know they will have to claw through miles of red tape to even get the idea mentioned. They know that there will be many hands reaching into our pockets once the project gets green-lighted, especially with a Massachusetts highway project.

All of that real world stuff gets them used to operating in a way that somehow prohibits Thinking Big.

The intricate solution is beyond my capabilities. If I showed any Urban Planning skill in high school, a series of guidance counselors failed to mention it to me. However, the basic philosophy on what we need to do is well within my skill set. You'll see it, too.

The toll will generate billions in revenue, without reducing traffic at all. It is almost punitive. Only someone with a financial stake in a road-construction industry or highway management can like the idea. Any politician who supports it should be chased through the streets by a mob of angry constituents, and perhaps be kicked in the ribs a bunch of times.

If we and our tourists are going to spend billions over the life of a toll bridge, we should at least get what we pay for.

50,000 cars a day times $5 a pop = $250,000 a day in toll revenue.

Let's lower the toll rate so that I can just say "a million a week" and "maybe $5 a car is a doomsday estimate" without stretching the truth too far.

300 weeks pays off the project. 300 weeks is like, uhm, 6 years or something.

But the toll will last forever.

Heck, we'll even throw in a decade or two to cover any/all maintenance costs, and a third decade to cover the eventual replace-the-old-Sagamore-Bridge costs. Over an assumed 100 year lifespan of the bridge, this still has the Man needlessly in your pocket for 65 years.

The only way for us to get any value out of this is if our project is so massive, it takes a century of tolls to pay for it.

Off the top of my head, I'd drop a third bridge right in the middle of the other two. I would gut Bournedale with roads connecting to Route 25 and Route 3, seizing Bournedale Road and Herring Pond Road by Eminent Domain if need be. I'd make the road into a big Y, with the bottom part of the Y being the third bridge.

I'd do an upside down version on the other side of the bridge, after taking some land from the gub'mint. The forks of the letter can sort of ^ towards Route 28 and Route 6 through the military base.

Shoot, why not build it in such a way that we can line it with Burger Kings, Cumberland Farms and Exxons? I have never met a local economy that couldn't use a rush of jobs. Perhaps even a Bournedale Mall would not be out of the question.

It would actually solve the problem that Main Street in Buzzards Bay has had since the freeway went in. Route 25 cut off our Tourist Flow, so we get back at Route 25 by cutting into it to run those same tourists by our businesses again. Main Street could slowly re-design itself to suit more immediate local needs, which it is sort of doing now anyhow.

There would be some ugliness to They Tore Down The Carter Beal Nature Preserve And Put Up A Gas Station With A Dunkin' Donuts In It, no doubt. We could mute the environmental damage by building an elaborate Arc de Triomphe bridge over the herring run in Bournedale.

I'd also go with a wrap-around fishing pier along the bottom of the bridges, and light all of the bridges up like they do with the Zakim Bridge. I'd celebrate the opening with a party so huge and chaotic, it would make V-J Day look like someone just won a Scrabble game.

It's being paid for... why not?

Hold on, someone did the map better than I did.

In my world of the future, we now have a third bridge. It is fed by roads which break off from highways which are already in place. The roads break off at the exact points (the Ingersoll Bend and Herring Pond Road) where we currently begin our present bumper-to-bumper congestion. We strike at the areas with the lowest population densities, mostly swamp and wasteland. Anyone we displace is compensated handsomely.

Locals can still use Main Street, Sandwich Road, the Cranberry Highway, the Scenic Highway and 6A for local-type stuff, which leads us to the best part. Before I get to that best part, I'd like to add that this plan would probably allow us to get rid of the two Bourne Bridge rotaries, and just have intersections like normal towns do.

The best part? The third bridge would be almost 100% Tourist. The current bridges feed the Bourne villages, while this hypothetical third bridge would empty into a discontinued military base and some Bournedale swampland. It would be of little use to locals, and it would only be used by tourists.

And it is this bridge that would bear the dreaded Toll. Holler if you hear me.

Now we have the burden where it should be. Tourists can pay for their own bridge. Smarter hotels and tourist destinations can comp guests for the toll. Bourne residents have suffered for years to fill Harwich restaurants with tourists, so cry me a river, Mooncussers.

Bourne and perhaps Sandwich residents will be exempt from any tolls, of course. We've been tolled in Traffic Patience for the last 100 years. F*** you.

The toll bridge can also be used by the rich man to skip heavier traffic at the free bridges via a small shedding of excess wealth, as the new bridge would sport a very low traffic volume for most of the week.  A five dollar toll for an empty bridge may also be an acceptable and necessary luxury to a working stiff who is running late for work on an important day.

We may have to somehow divert traffic to the toll bridge on certain Touristy days while preserving the free bridges for local traffic, and perhaps even invest in some of that Urban Warfare stuff that the cops get in larger cities where the people riot a lot. Maybe we can borrow some tanks from the military base.

We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, if you'll pardon the pun.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wellfleet Hurricane Information

If God needed to open a beer bottle, He would use Wellfleet Harbor.

There are no imminent storms, Wellfleet is just next up to bat in our ongoing series.

We have two maps from FEMA to check out today. The map above is a Hurricane Inundation map, and it depicts storm surge from a direct hit hurricane visiting Wellfleet at mean high tide. It also shows what sort of storm would be needed to soak certain regions, which we'll get to in a minute.

The map is from the combined efforts of FEMA, MEMA, NOAA and the NHC. They use the funny-weatherman-titled SLOSH model of storm surge estimation. They do not depict freshwater flooding.

The colors relate to the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, and break down like this:

Light Green = Category 1 hurricane. Hurricane Gloria was one of these, and the offshore Halloween Gale was, too. Although not a tropical system, the Blizzard of '78 did Cat. 1-style damage.

Dark Green = Category 2 hurricane. Hurricane Bob was one of these.

Yellow = Category 3 hurricane. We've only had five of these hit New England since the Other Man arrived in 1620, the most recent being Hurricane Carol in 1954.

Pink = Category 4 hurricane. We've had one in recorded New England history, and it struck in 1635.

Flesh = One Hundred Year FEMA Food Zone. This is the "100 year storm" you hear people speak of, but you have to go pre-Colombian to find them ("going pre-Colombian" means using salt marsh soil samples to look for sand layering associated with large hurricanes). New England has had storms in the Category 4+ level in the 1100s, the 1300s, and the 1400s.

Sorry about Flesh, but my knowledge of color names was and continues to be heavily influenced by whoever was in charge at Crayola in the 1970s.

We shall leave the street-by-street analysis to the reader, who can use the links I'll throw in at the end of the article to zoom in on their own house if it suits them.

Note that you don't need to be in a shaded area to get yourself a quick and sudden Ending. You can have a tree fall on you, have your car washed out in street flooding, step on a downed power line, get purged by looters, enjoy the Robespierre treatment from flying shingles, be summarily executed by National Guardsmen, or even stumble into a sharknado. There's no shortage of ways for you to get Left.

With that in mind, we now present to you the down-there-somewhere Evacuation Zone map.

Remember, you don't HAVE to leave when 5-0 tells you to. Also remember that the cop you read the Constitution to before the storm may be the one who has to fish you out of the drink when the ship hits the fan.

The E-map is easier to read, as it is made up of only two colors.

Red = Get Out.

Yellow = Get the f*** out.

Bone up on some cool, hurricane-related information!

Hurricane Inundation Maps

Evacuation Maps

Worst Hurricanes To Hit New England

List of all hurricanes to hit New England

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Between Two Bridges: Wendy Northcross

Talking Bridges With The CCC CEO
Wendy Northcross is the CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber Of Commerce. She's been down with COC since 1997, and has been running the ship for some time now. She is on the board of so many things that I don't even feel like listing them all, but some of the better ones include the JFK Museum and the Cooperative Bank Of Cape Cod.
She is one of the state and maybe the country's better tourism experts, and she wields a lot of power. If you're a little girl and still think women can only be nurses and Mashpee Ballet dancers, check out the swagger that Ms. Northcross carries around Cape Cod. When she speaks, heads turn.
Speaking of which....
She is also one of the weightier voices calling for a third bridge. That bridge may be a toll bridge. The good news is that it may ease traffic a bit. The bad news is that you'll be paying for it every time you drive across the bridge for the rest of eternity.
I sent Wendy a list of questions in the email, and she was cool enough to get them back to me in the same day. If you are upset about me not challenging her on certain points, hate the game and not the player.
Her answers are exactly as she mailed them to me, and were not altered. I switched the question order around on publishing to line up certain pictures I have.
Here we go:
Jessica Allen: Tell us about the plans being discussed about building a third bridge over the Cape Cod Canal.....
Wendy Northcross: Because of the condition of the 80 year old canal bridges, and the now chronic maintenance cycle we find ourselves facing almost annually, community and state officials began to ask about the true safety of the bridges and what was the future plan?
The responses to our questions were “there is no long range plan” – and “there are no government resources to do anything like a new bridge for at least 20 to 30 years or more.”
So the discussion turned to the questions “how long can we continue to depend upon the bridges to carry freight, and for us to safely traverse the canal - how long can Cape Codders continue to suffer significant travel delays during shoulder-season maintenance on the bridges?”
To that end, community leaders and state officials have had meaningful conversations with a broad base of businesses and residents about their tolerance level for the current state of the bridges vs. a plan for the future. Fortunately, we now have a plan that everyone can look at and decide if it holds merit. 

If we built a third bridge that was independent of the current bridges, what would it be named? 
I don’t know…. maybe “new bridge?”

Is there no other way to get this bridge built without a permatax on commuters? 
Government officials have indicated that there are no federal or state resources available to build any new crossing infrastructure for at least 20 to 30 years. The question is, how long do Cape Codders want to wait and what does waiting cost? 

- Why should Cape Codders who don't have yachts or LNG interests pay tolls for a bridge over a Canal that they don't want, need, or benefit from?
The current concept is that only users of the new bridge would pay – the Bourne Bridge would be available at no charge. I believe that most Cape Codders well understand the need for stable infrastructure over which their goods and services and customers can pass.

Should someone making $9 an hour who has to cross the bridge twice to get to and from his six hour shift be forced to give almost 20% of his day's pay to tolls? Will there be hardship exemptions to tolling?
The beauty of transponder technology is that high frequency users can be identified and calculated to pay at a different rate (or potentially no rate if they are an immediate neighbor). Remember, in this current concept, the Bourne Bridge – 2 miles up the road, remains free. 

- If we feel that many New Yorkers will balk at the prospect of paying a toll request from their Barnstable vacation the previous summer, and since we all know the tolls will never go away, at what point in history would the bridge be paid for solely by taxing tourists?
If a guest does not have the money to pay a toll, they are very unlikely to be visiting in the first place.

- In the event that the state says there are going to be temporary tolls and they instead make them permanent, can you get Randy Hunt or Bill Keating to insert some date or language into the bill now that allows us to sue the state to stop the tolls once the bridge is paid for?

The financial analysis will reveal the return on investment levels recommended to put this project out to a public/private partnership model of ownership.

Would a new bridge substantially decrease the time we'd need to evacuate Cape Cod in an emergency?
It should give us more options. 

Former clerk at the Market Basket playing urban planner here.... why not break off an off-ramp off of Route 25 at the Ingersoll Bend, while also breaking off an offramp from Route 3 through Bournedale.... both off-ramps form a "Y" and meet a new road, which feeds the third bridge, around Barlow's Clam Shack...... the third bridge enters the military reservation, where another Y breaks traffic onto Route 6 and Route 28 somewhere? Short of widening Routes 3, 6, 25, and 28, it seems like the only way to actually reduce traffic.

MA DOT traffic engineers, using the traffic counts on the key roads, and looking at land ownership vs. the cost of land takings, and using existing roadways versus building extensive new roadways laid out a variety of scenarios – and then estimated costs on all of them. And yes, some were very expensive without yielding larger increases in efficiency and safety. 

- If the short answer to the above question is "one billion dollars," the rebuttal is "We're going to have a permanent toll in place long after the bridge is paid for, why not build a hyper-expensive bridge that actually does lessen gridlock?" If it's going to cost me $10 a day in tolls to commute 2 miles to work for the rest of my life, I want to only know about gridlock in an abstract sense.
One of the questions you should have asked first is “what is the capacity of the roadway vs. the bridges?” The answer is that the bridges have much less capacity of cars per hour than the current road system, and if we give ourselves some shoulder room and separate the travel lanes – we’ll have a safer and more streamlined flow – reducing gridlock.
Fortunately for us, our state traffic engineers have found a scenario that bears further vetting based on creating safer and more efficient travel at a cost that bears consideration.

- I almost feel badly asking you this, but has anyone actually ever really seriously honestly looked into maybe building a tunnel? If so, roughly where were they thinking of putting it? Will permit decals be sold?
Yes – and we have been told and it is far more expensive. Although I do think most Cape Codders already have the decal!

If the villages of Bournedale, Sagamore Beach, and Buzzards Bay were to secede from both Bourne and Barnstable County, could we sue for a share of the loot from the toll bridge? We are the ones who do nearly 100% of the suffering with traffic, and we benefit the least from bridges.
I liken the bridge flow to a clot in a blood vessel. One small clot affects the entire human body. Our narrow bridges affect the entire Cape’s flow and thus its well being. 

- All of those bridges should be lit at night, like the Zakim Bridge. I'd do each one in a different color. What other vacation destination has THAT?
Nice idea.

How long can we expect the current bridges to hold up? Won't the twin bridge idea be a bit heavy for all that Great Depression concrete?
A new bridge would be (as currently proposed) about 15’ from the existing bridge on all new footings and made of materials that do not require painting. A new bridge could handle diverted traffic when we needed to fix the Sagamore – allowing the old bridge to be taken off-line for faster and deeper repairs.

Are there any plans to erase that ridiculous on-ramp merge at the Christmas Tree Shop?
With the proposed plan – this lane would get its own travel lane outbound over the old bridge. Between now and new bridge completion – there are some things we could try – but Bourne residents would need to be up for the experiment of restricting use of the onramp during a peak travel day. 

- Imagine that you can wipe away Main Street in Buzzards Bay... what would you lay down in place of it?
Main Street in Buzzards Bay has a great deal of character and potential opportunity as well as a bright future. I see a mix of uses with residential places within walking distance of shopping, work, recreation and access to rail.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mattapoisett Hurricane Primer: Inundation And Evacuation

Note the "Mattepoisett" spelling...

Hurricane season is upon us, and we are nearing the peak of it.

Now, we're in Massachusetts, and we haven't been hit dead-on by a hurricane since the 1990s. That means that we don't get them often, and it means that we are long overdue.

They aren't a frequent enough event that you should walk around wringing your hands or anything. However, there are certain things that a wise person might do which can actually eliminate a lot of the hand-wringing.

Ironically, the first step to a peaceful mind is to view some Disaster Porn!

We have two maps for you to look at, and they are specific to your town. One is for Inundation, and the other is for Evacuation. They pertain to a direct-hit hurricane hitting your town at mean high tide.

"Inundation" means "covered in water," although you can call it a Deathflood or a Sea Plague if that gets your people motivated. It refers to which areas in town will be covered with seawater (important distinction, these maps do NOT project freshwater flooding) if you play host to a hurricane.

The map for Inundation (the top one) is color-coded, with light green, dark green, yellow and red. Those colors equate to which areas will get wet in what kind of storm, i.e. Category 1, 2, 3 and 4. Where you see colors changing on the map, that's where the experts think it will require a greater storm to flood that area in seawater.

The map for Evacuation (right) is less complicated. If you look at the Inundation map for a moment and then look at the Evacuation map, the logic will eventually make sense. The red areas of the map essentially say "Those People Have To Leave," and the yellow areas say "You Have To Leave, Too."

See how you compare to your neighboring towns with the complete list of Inundation maps and Evacuation maps.

Remember, storm surge is not the only threat from a hurricane. Things like falling branches, freshwater flooding, lightning, flying debris, slick roads, tornadoes, downed power lines, looters and a thousand other variables can mess you up plenty when the barometer drops heavy.

Mattapoisett's status as a hurricane target depends on a battle between the barrier effect provided by Falmouth and The Islands and the funnel effect that Buzzards Bay has on storm surge being pushed ahead of a big hurricane.

As we say in all of these storm articles we write, Buzzards Bay provides a similar effect on cyclones to what you see happen in Bangladesh. Water goes into the big end and the narrowing of the bay leaves the water with nowhere to go but Forward and Higher.

There is a saying that civilization stops at the waterline, and that we all enter the food chain after that... but not always at the top. Mattapoisett has taken shots from the sea on several occasions, be it shark attack (1930s) or monster storms in 1938, 1944, 1954 and 1991. You can see the post-Bob ruins of Master P in one of these fine videos collected by my main man at West Island Weather.

Aside from the torn-apart-coastline shots you see with every storm, Matty P also offers a unique chance for the ocean to shut down not one but two major highways. Estimates vary, but even a Category 3 storm (granted, which would be among the worst in the state's White Guy history) would run a strong chance of making both Route 6 and Route 195 impassable in the Mattapoisett River area. Aucoot Cove flooding of a high order could also send ocean water across Route 6.

Aside from coves and river mouths, Matta P also gets flooding along her immediate coastline. It's not the place you want to be if a storm hits. As you might imagine, Matty has an extensive area which would merit evacuation in even a moderate hurricane. Places along the Mattapoisett River would be evacuated up to 195 in a minimal hurricane, and a slobberknocker of a storm woud push evacuations due to ocean water flooding miles past 195.

A hurricane in Mattapoisett ain't to be played with. Anyone who lives there, or even anyone who plans to visit, should be aware of which areas are prone to flooding and which areas will need to be evacuated.

We want you alive for monetary reasons, as we live off your site visits. We want you alive for professional pride reasons, i.e. "If they listened to me, they lived." We also want you alive for regular, nice-people reasons. Like the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared."