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Gov. Romney on Cape tourism:

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Gov. Romney on tourism:

Getting here's a hassle, and that hurts

Backs downtown development to preserve open space

By Evan J. Albright

If the Cape desires to keep its tourism industry strong, Governor Mitt Romney believes it needs to protect its natural beauty and reduce the hassle of getting on and off.

Romney's speech opened the 17th annual Massachusetts Governor's Conference on Travel and Tourism, a two-day convocation held Monday and Tuesday at the Sheraton Hyannis Resort. Travel professionals from across the commonwealth filled the ballroom to hear the governor and others speak about trends in the industry.

The governor opened his remarks with an algebra lesson: Tourism dollars, he said, equals the desirability of destination plus the dollars used by that destination to market itself. His equation included three negatives: the cost of getting there, the hassle of getting there and the "fear factor" that entered America's travel consciousness on Sept. 11, 2001.

The so-called "fear factor" has subsided in recent months, Romney said, although he added that he was surprised that there has not been another attack

The biggest negative factor in relation to tourism on Cape Cod is "The Hassle Factor" The governor once owned a cottage in the Bourne village of Pocasset, but admitted he sold it and found somewhere else to vacation because of the difficulty getting to and from the Cape on weekends: "I said, 'If I'm governor, I've got to fix this."

Two hours later, during an appearance at Sencorp, a Hyannis manufacturer, a reporter asked Romney whether the Sagamore Rotary bypass would begin construction in June, as originally planned. The joint Transportation Committee in the Legislature has asked for another study, putting the project in limbo. The governor declined to speak about the politics of the situation, but said, "Ultimately, the people of Cape Cod will yell with a loud voice and legislators on both sides of the aisle will listen." He added, "This is not a partisan matter."

It was not the Cape, but toward Logan International Airport that the governor directed most of the negatives during the travel and tourism speech. "The Hassle Factor" getting in and out of Logan International Airport is particularly high, he said. The long-delayed proposal to construct another runway at the airport is one way to reduce that. The security measures at Logan create another hassle for passengers, the governor said. He praised the job the federal Transportation Safety Administration has been doing, but said, "We have to find ways to reduce the hassle."

Romney praised the natural features of the Cape, which give it great value as a tourist destination. The governor advocated several proposals to retain the beauty of the Cape and other regions. Instead of promoting development that requires cutting down trees, he said, why not increase density in town centers by allowing apartments over retail stores, for example. Those people, in turn, will patronize businesses in the town center and keep them alive.

The governor also recommended preserving farmland, including cranberry bogs, "because cranberry bogs are pretty."

The audience applauded when the governor spoke against the proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound. "From Maine to Florida, is this the only place wind power will be viable?" he asked. If not, why build there, of all places, first?

When it comes to tourism dollars, the governor said that in a year of budget cuts, the state tourism budget remained the same from the previous year. He has proposed a 33 percent increase for next year, he said, but added later that "we're not spending anywhere near what we should."

From The Barnstable Patriot

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The freeway doesn't run the whole way though. Plus, the area is quite densely populated. Everyone wants to be by the cape. So every weekend everyone flocks to the cape, causing massive traffic backups, or so I've heard. I'm assuming it's something similar to the massive traffic jams we get on I-75 in Michigan because of people going up north for the weekend.

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The Cape is cut-off from the mainland by a canal that only has two highway bridges. Both bridges were built in the 30s and are far below interstate standards. The incline is too steep, the lanes are too narrow, and there is no median divider, only yellow stripes on the pavement. Add to that the fact that you have to come to a complete stop at the base of the bridge to merge into a rotary (round-about) and you have up to 30 mile backups on holiday weekends. The highway only runs part way out the Cape.

The governor has proposed what is being called "The Sagamore Flyover." Basically, Route 3 which comes down from Boston to the mainland side of the bridge would be put on a bridge and would 'fly' over local traffic straight onto the bridge without having to merge at the rotary. This would cut delays considerably, though the bridge's substandard design would still slow traffic.

There is a ferry from Boston to Provincetown and it is quite popular, but Provincetown is all the way at the tip of the Cape, 60 miles from the canal crossings. Most vacationers are heading to the Mid-Cape area, 30 miles back down the penninsula from Provincetown.

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Vote dims chances of flyover start

DAVID KIBBE

Times Boston Bureau | June 30, 2004

BOSTON - House Democrats last night delayed a vote on a land-taking bill needed to build the Sagamore Rotary flyover until July 30, making it increasingly unlikely there will be a groundbreaking this summer.

The Cape delegation had expected a vote yesterday. It would have been the final step needed to begin construction of the flyover, which is to replace the traffic-clogged Sagamore Rotary. The bill already has passed the Senate and is a top priority of Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.

But Rep. Angelo Scaccia, D-Boston, a member of House leadership, moved last night to delay the flyover debate until July 30. The vote will likely fall on the last day of this year's legislation session, one day after the close of the Democratic National Convention.

The motion passed, 119-31.

flyovermap15.jpg

House Republicans angrily accused the Democrats of holding the flyover "hostage" as retribution for their day-long attempts to block a vote on a bill creating a special election for U.S. Senate vacancies. The bill, which would strip Romney of his power to appoint a Republican to serve out the remainder of Sen. John Kerry's term if he is elected president, ultimately passed 116 to 34.

"The only reason I could see for this was that they were trying to put some political pressure on us to not continue the fight on the John Kerry bill," said Rep. Jeffrey Davis Perry, R-Sandwich. "If this really is July 30, and we really do pass it, then you've got to think it puts the (construction) schedule in serious jeopardy."

The so-called flyover, which has been debated and planned on the Cape for decades, is really an underpass. It would eliminate the rotary, which was built in the 1930s, and connect Route 3 directly to the Sagamore Bridge. A new underpass would connect Sagamore Beach and Buzzards Bay.

Jon Carlisle, a spokesman for the Executive Office of Transportation and Construction, said last night's delay made it more likely no work would be done this summer, and the completion date would be pushed back from the summer of 2006 to the summer of 2007.

"If they are going to delay the passage of this legislation for another month, that leaves us in a pretty difficult position as far as meeting the original schedule," Carlisle said.

The land-taking bill, which is crucial to the flyover, has been pending for a year. The state would take 1.3 acres of open-space land from Bourne and replace it with more than 4 acres. The state had hoped to break ground earlier this month.

House Speaker Thomas Finneran said the land-taking bill could still come up earlier than July 30. The Legislature may also adjourn as early as July 22, before the convention begins.

"There's no retribution whatsoever," Finneran said outside the House chamber. "We could take the matter up earlier if we wanted to, but we wanted to set a time certain, and that's the date most members felt most comfortable with. There's always the possibility it could even be expedited."

Rep. Joseph Wagner, D-Chicopee, who chairs the Transportation Committee, said many legislators were concerned about a section of the bill that was added to appease legislators from Fall River and New Bedford.

New Bedford-area legislators had vowed to block the flyover unless Romney agreed to advance an $850 million commuter rail project to their cities. The Romney administration was said to have agreed to a deal brokered by House leaders that added a new section to the bill. It directed the governor to begin environmental permitting for the rail line and continue negotiations with CSX Corp. for a right-of-way on the tracks

"I can tell you there were members of delegations from throughout this state that did not care for the fact that this administration was playing 'let's make a deal' and only including a single delegation," Wagner said.

Wagner has opposed the flyover, questioning its cost and whether it would solve traffic problems at the entrance to Cape Cod or make new ones.

"I think the overwhelming margin of that vote serves as a strong indicator that had the matter been before us for enactment that it would have been defeated," Wagner said, adding the flyover would have had a better chance in a standalone vote.

Rep. William Straus, D-Mattapoisett, said Romney's own budget office had raised questions about the rail permitting language because it did not include a dollar figure. The delegation has estimated permitting will cost $6.6 million.

Perry said he had heard nothing from the administration but support for the bill, which was enacted in the Senate earlier this month and passed the House on a preliminary vote.

In a sign of the emotion in the chamber, Straus scolded Minority Leader Bradley Jones Jr., R-North Reading for comparing the flyover bill to a "hostage" and saying: "The hostage that was taken a few weeks ago was dragged to the podium and shot."

Jones later apologized for the remark.

From The Cape Cod Times

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Ferry service this summer will certainly see an increase of more people on foot.

Down in NJ, also i can see many New Yorkers hopping onto the North Jersey Coast Line train from Penn Station to the Monmouth County beaches. Gas is $4 a gallon in parts of the city.

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GEtting to the Cape is a pain, getting around ON the Cape is a pain. The problem is, it's a small area. Plain and simple. If anything, it's much easier now than it was twenty years ago (20 years? God I'm getting old!) - before they extended 495/25/28 whatever it is called there stright over the bridge - the Bourne Bridge used to have a rotary, too. And I wouldn't go calling Rt. ^ a major freeway, either - it's a pretty narrow road itself.

The big obstacle to traffic is the bridges, and the pure lack of a place for all those cars. I would in fact replace one of the bridges, but I would focus more on good rail connections from Boston right over the canal and down the Cape.

Many of the people on the Cape, by the way, want nothing to do with these as they already consider the place overrun in the summer and the last thing they want are more people. Why not explore other parts of the Mass coast?

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Having just visited this area, I can say that accessibility isn't an issue. You can take 6 the length of the Cape to Orleans as a limited access highway, then as a standard highway for most of the journey to Provincetown. It still needs to be widened in a few places though. The other southern bridge isn't really useful unless you are going to Falmouth or the islands.

I think the major problem is Camp Edwards being located where it is. Why do they have that base there anyway?

It looks as though they are removing the rotary on the northern canal bridge.

With regards to rail access, how many towns/villages have a functional rail station? Hyannis looks like it does, though as a tourist, its hard for me to say how functional it is. Even further, how many towns/villages would be worth stopping at? Most places aren't densely populated enough to warrant a train station (even for tourism) becuase people need to have somewhere to walk to once they arrive.

They have a ferry to Provincetown from Plymouth and from Boston during the summer tourist months.

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Having just visited this area, I can say that accessibility isn't an issue. You can take 6 the length of the Cape to Orleans as a limited access highway, then as a standard highway for most of the journey to Provincetown. It still needs to be widened in a few places though. The other southern bridge isn't really useful unless you are going to Falmouth or the islands.

I think the major problem is Camp Edwards being located where it is. Why do they have that base there anyway?

I'm not sure what day you went, but getting on Cape on a Friday afternoon in-season is nightmarish, and getting off on a Sunday is as well. On Holiday weekends backups of 15+ miles are not unheard of. Several years ago a hurricane skirted the coast on Labor Day weekend and there was a 30+ mile backup (to Orleans) to get off Cape. Since then the evacuation procedures for hurricanes has changed, now people are encourage to stay, the Cape is large enough that much of it is relatively safe during a storm, not like the small barrier islands in the Carolinas and on the Gulf Coast. If the hurricane had actually hit that weekend, tens-of-thousands of people in their cars would have been in extreme danger, plus the fact that the bridges close when winds exceed 50(?) miles an hour.

Camp Edwards has a NORAD radar station in the northern end and is still used for artillery practice from time to time, the southern end is Otis Air National Guard base, the HQ of the Mass. National Guard, and is also a major Coast Guard air station. The was a proposal some time ago to build a "Southside Connector" which would have run across the northern end of the base from the Bourne Bridge (the southern one) to Route 6 near exit 2. For various reasons it never happened.

The Bourne Bridge is heavily used by people coming from points south, Providence, New York... The Cape side road alon ghte canal is only two lanes, but moves traffic bound for Route 6 somewhat well.

It looks as though they are removing the rotary on the northern canal bridge.
Yup, that's called the Flyover project, and will connect Route 3 directly to the bridge and Route 6.

With regards to rail access, how many towns/villages have a functional rail station? Hyannis looks like it does, though as a tourist, its hard for me to say how functional it is. Even further, how many towns/villages would be worth stopping at? Most places aren't densely populated enough to warrant a train station (even for tourism) becuase people need to have somewhere to walk to once they arrive.

There is a brand new intermodal transit facility in Hyannis, which only serves one mode right now, buses. There is a train station, but the only train is the Dinner Train, no regular passenger rail service currently serves the Cape. There are stations in Barnstable Village and Sandwich as well, and there is another rail line that runs down to Falmouth with a new station there that sits unused. Then there is also a station on the mainland side in Buzzards Bay.

Rail service would primarily run to Hyannis, and there is enough density there to allow for a shuttle bus system to move people around the area. Many hotels and beaches in Hyannis and South Yarmouth could be served by a better bus system. Shuttle could also run to the island ferries in Hyanns and to the airport. For commuting, most locals would probably prefer to drive to a park and ride, as they do know to take commuter buses to Boston. Barnstable Village does not need a rail station, though it could serve as a park and ride for north side commuters. The rail spur to Falmouth would get good traffic from people seeking to reach the Vineyard. The rails from Downtown Falmouth to Woods Hole (where the ferry is) havwe been converted to a bike path, but shuttle buses could certainly run from Falmouth to Woods Hole. People already park remotely and take shuttle to the ferry, taking the train would avoid the bridge traffic.

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I'm not sure what day you went, but getting on Cape on a Friday afternoon in-season is nightmarish, and getting off on a Sunday is as well. On Holiday weekends backups of 15+ miles are not unheard of. Several years ago a hurricane skirted the coast on Labor Day weekend and there was a 30+ mile backup (to Orleans) to get off Cape. Since then the evacuation procedures for hurricanes has changed, now people are encourage to stay, the Cape is large enough that much of it is relatively safe during a storm, not like the small barrier islands in the Carolinas and on the Gulf Coast. If the hurricane had actually hit that weekend, tens-of-thousands of people in their cars would have been in extreme danger, plus the fact that the bridges close when winds exceed 50(?) miles an hour.

Camp Edwards has a NORAD radar station in the northern end and is still used for artillery practice from time to time, the southern end is Otis Air National Guard base, the HQ of the Mass. National Guard, and is also a major Coast Guard air station. The was a proposal some time ago to build a "Southside Connector" which would have run across the northern end of the base from the Bourne Bridge (the southern one) to Route 6 near exit 2. For various reasons it never happened.

The Bourne Bridge is heavily used by people coming from points south, Providence, New York... The Cape side road alon ghte canal is only two lanes, but moves traffic bound for Route 6 somewhat well.

Yup, that's called the Flyover project, and will connect Route 3 directly to the bridge and Route 6.

There is a brand new intermodal transit facility in Hyannis, which only serves one mode right now, buses. There is a train station, but the only train is the Dinner Train, no regular passenger rail service currently serves the Cape. There are stations in Barnstable Village and Sandwich as well, and there is another rail line that runs down to Falmouth with a new station there that sits unused. Then there is also a station on the mainland side in Buzzards Bay.

Rail service would primarily run to Hyannis, and there is enough density there to allow for a shuttle bus system to move people around the area. Many hotels and beaches in Hyannis and South Yarmouth could be served by a better bus system. Shuttle could also run to the island ferries in Hyanns and to the airport. For commuting, most locals would probably prefer to drive to a park and ride, as they do know to take commuter buses to Boston. Barnstable Village does not need a rail station, though it could serve as a park and ride for north side commuters. The rail spur to Falmouth would get good traffic from people seeking to reach the Vineyard. The rails from Downtown Falmouth to Woods Hole (where the ferry is) havwe been converted to a bike path, but shuttle buses could certainly run from Falmouth to Woods Hole. People already park remotely and take shuttle to the ferry, taking the train would avoid the bridge traffic.

Most of this past week was spend on the Cape... But most of the literature we could find, and the locals too, said that this week is the start of the tourist season. Apparantly we missed the nighmarish traffic, because it was never an issue.

You make an excellent point about the rail system.... I was thinking about getting people to the Cape, and not thinking about those who live there. When we went to Boston, one of the locals told us that everyone on the Cape uses Kingston station for commuting. In that case, a rail line would make excellent sense for the Cape, and I am suprised that more has not been done to make it happen.

One barrier that I can see is that the rail bridge over the canal looks like it has to raise so that ships can pass below. That could potentially be a problem for keeping schedules- assuming that the canal is used frequently.

Do most people on the Cape work in Boston?

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Do most people on the Cape work in Boston?

The 2000 census says that 3000 people in Barnstable County work in Suffolk County, which is Boston. More work in Plymouth, Bristol, and Middlesex Counties. Several hundred in RI.

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