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Barnstable Discusses Traffic

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Clashing views on Exit 6 1/2 highlight workshop

By David Curran

This time it was roundabouts and traffic signals, flyovers and fractional exits. Wastewater, septage, fertilizer and growth husbandry are yet to come.

Barnstable's Local Planning Committee Monday night conducted the first of four workshops on what committee Chairwoman Marlene Weir called "hot-button" issues that are being reviewed as the committee works on a revision to the town's Local Comprehensive Plan.

About two dozen people turned out for Monday's session on transportation, which concentrated on major road improvements under way, planned, or being considered by the town.

Paul Lebel of Marstons Mills, cochairman of a private group promoting Exit 6 1/2, outlined the rationale for the proposed exit, but not without drawing opposing comment on the controversial idea. The Route 6 interchange midway between Exits 6 and 7 would provide more direct access from the highway to much of Hyannis' commercial and industrial areas, particularly Independence Park, where Cape Cod Hospital is to construct its new Ambulatory Care Center.

"Everyone that would use this is someone who would otherwise have to use Route 132 (via Exit 6) or Willow Street (via Exit 7)," Lebel said.

He said the estimated cost of the interchange is between $10 million and $12 million, with the federal government expected to provide at least 80 percent of the funding.

But Mark Wirtanen of West Barnstable sees the exit as serving the business community and off-Cape visitors, siphoning money away from projects that would benefit Cape residents. He offered similar criticism of the proposed Sagamore flyover, which would allow motorists using the Sagamore Bridge to bypass the rotary at the west approach to the bridge, streamlining the trip between Route 3 and Route 6. The flyover would "drain millions of dollars from projects that need it," he said, citing in particular affordable housing.

"Your kids and grandkids, my kids and grandkids are never going to be able to live here," he predicted.

The Exit 6 1/2 proposal is undergoing environmental review, said Lev Malakhoff, senior transportation engineer for the Cape Cod Commission.

Malakhoff, who also outlined the process by which federal transportation dollars are obtained, worried that funding received in recent years, approximately $5.5 million annually, is less than half the estimated $12 million per year that will be needed to maintain the existing transportation infrastructure.

"We're concerned," he said, "that the roadway system, including bridges, is going to be deteriorating."

Along with physical wear and tear on the infrastructure, Malakhoff also noted that more traffic congestion can be expected. Projections show the levels of service provided by Barnstable's major roadways are expected to continue worsening over the next two decades.

Barnstable's Local Planning Committee has three more workshops scheduled , all to be conducted at Town Hall. Wastewater facilities will be the topic March 29, with nitrate and nitrogen management scheduled for April 12 and "smart growth" set for May 3. Each workshop convenes at 7 p.m.

The Barnstable Patriot

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