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State OK's removal of Sagamore rotary

By Beth Daley, Globe Staff, 12/17/2003

The Sagamore Rotary, long the most grueling hurdle for thousands of travelers who flock to Cape Cod on summer weekends, will be dismantled beginning as early as this spring and replaced by a road that sends Route 3 traffic straight onto the Sagamore Bridge.

State Environmental Affairs Secretary Ellen Roy Herzfelder gave her final approval yesterday of the $35 million project, which was opposed by environmentalists and some residents who worried that easier access to the Cape would increase development.

"To everyone who has had to endure that broken intersection, we are on our way to fixing it," said Daniel A. Grabauskas, state secretary of transportation. "It is a great milestone."

The project, discussed for as long as 40 years, has no other significant obstacles to its completion, slated for summer 2006. Last month, the Federal Highway Administration agreed to provide $28 million, and the state has already set aside its $7 million portion. Plans are already underway to take four houses and a business by eminent domain to make room for the project, said Grabauskas.

During midday traffic on summer Saturdays, the trip from Route 3 across the bridge would drop from 27 minutes to 6 minutes, according to the Executive Office of Transportation and Construction.

Summertime Cape traffic has long been the stuff of stories and the setting for family fights as sweltering drivers and passengers inch toward the Sagamore Rotary, with the smell of exhaust serving as prelude to the clear air of the Cape. Longtime tourists and some residents even place decals on their cars denoting permission to enter a fictitious Cape Cod Tunnel and have debated a variety of solutions to the traffic, such as ferries across the canal or even building more roads.

The plan approved yesterday calls for the elimination of the rotary, with its familiar last-stop food mart. Instead, Route 3 will narrow from two lanes to one, feeding a stream of traffic directly onto the left-hand lane of the bridge's two southbound lanes. Travelers on the Bourne Scenic Highway parallel to the Cape Cod Canal will take a new ramp to the bridge's right-hand southbound lane.

With the rotary removed, the Scenic Highway will be straightened and dip under the new overpass, ending years of frustration for Bourne residents, who found the trip across town nearly impossible on many summer days.

Yesterday, conservationists said the rotary in some ways was the last true barrier preventing the upper Cape from becoming a suburb of Boston. They also worry that increased development could further tax Cape Cod's sole source of drinking water, and they suggest that traffic snarls will continue, spurred by people's belief that it is easier to get to Cape Cod. Some questioned why Governor Mitt Romney was staunchly behind the dismantling of the rotary, even as he promised a platform of smart growth in the state.

"They say if you build it, they will come. The only twist to this is, if you remove it, they will come," said Bennet Heart, senior lawyer for the Conservation Law Foundation. The organization has long opposed the project, and has urged a more intensive environmental review than the one that led to yesterday's decision.

"Cape Cod is a much beloved resource, but it's also a fragile one. We should think very carefully before we open up this opportunity for more growth," he said.

Roy Herzfelder agreed that development could increase with the project, and ordered the state Highway Department to provide at least $500,000 for open-space preservation. At current prices, some environmentalists pointed out yesterday, that $500,000 might buy one house lot.

There is no dispute that the rotary, which dates from the same era as the 1935 Sagamore Bridge, is inadequate. Built for some 35,000 cars per day, it now handles an average of 70,000 to 90,000 during peak summer travel days, Grabauskas said. The new configuration could attract yet more cars, he said.

Cape Cod tourists have long pined for a way to make their travel to the Cape easier. Many go for the weekend or rent houses on a week-to-week basis, and traffic can snarl starting at midday Friday, easing slightly late Saturday afternoon and picking up again at midday Sunday.

But some tourists and residents said yesterday they feared that the new layout would create a safety hazard. Without the rotary to slow drivers, they said, vehicles would come too fast onto the narrow Sagamore Bridge, which has no divider between northbound and southbound traffic.

Others worried that their already overdeveloped region will become overrun.

"I recognize the need for Sagamore Beach [residents] to exit their community safely; it's really hairy now," said Beth Ellis, a longtime resident of South Sagamore and former reference librarian for the Sandwich Public Library. "But I absolutely deplore the underpassing, overpassing, and cloverleafing of Cape Cod. It is going to dump more traffic onto an infrastructure that can't be expanded without more pavement."



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Guest donaltopablo

I never thought that rotary was all that bad. Of course, I'm sure I always hit it on off peak times.

I still can't get use to that concept, rotarys... LOL. You see them in the N GA mountain towns, but I can't think of a single one around here.

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I never thought that rotary was all that bad. Of course, I'm sure I always hit it on off peak times.

It's a friggin' NIGHTMARE! I grew up on the Cape and my family still lives there. During the summer we wouldn't leave. When I lived in Boston I would go see my family on the weekend because crossing the canal is torture. Holiday weekends traffic getting off the Cape can back up 20 miles or more.

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  • 10 months later...

All clear for flyover


STAFF WRITER | November 19, 2004

After decades of discussion and years of debate, construction work on the Sagamore flyover has begun.


Land is cleared on the mainland side of the Sagamore Bridge yesterday for a new commuter parking lot in Sagamore Beach. The current park-and-ride lot will be reconstructed as part of the new flyover project to replace the Sagamore Rotary. The project is a bit behind schedule, but is still expected to be finished by the spring of 2007. Staff photo by VINCENT DEWITT

A formal groundbreaking has not been scheduled, but is "in the works," said Judith Forman, a spokeswoman for the state Executive Office of Transportation and Construction.

Gov. Mitt Romney, who made elimination of the Sagamore Rotary a high priority, is expected to formally launch the ambitious transportation project, but engineering and site preparation work is already under way.

"Basically, we're clearing land, moving trees and doing prep work," Forman said yesterday.

The $58.2 million construction project will begin with the demolition of four abandoned homes near the Scenic Highway. The houses were taken by the state to make room for the project, and the homeowners were compensated.

The overall plan entails replacing the Sagamore Rotary, notorious for traffic snarls and accidents, with a new road linking Route 3 directly to the Sagamore Bridge.

The project also includes construction of a temporary commuter parking lot behind the existing rotary, relocation of part of the Scenic Highway, and a new fire station for the town of Bourne.

State officials say the flyover project will enhance safety and alleviate traffic jams that can stretch for miles on either side of the Sagamore Bridge on summer weekends.

As is, the rotary approach to the bridge is one of "the major traffic hazards in Southeastern Massachusetts," said Thomas Cahir, assistant secretary of the Executive Office of Transportation and Construction.

"It'll reduce the queues substantially on Route 3 south" and improve public safety, Cahir said yesterday. The rotary is the No. 1 accident spot in all of Barnstable County, he said.

Broken down, $32.7 million will go to E.T.&L. Corp. of Stow, the contractor hired to handle removal of the rotary itself and construction of the new road.

Around $10 million will go to Bufftree Builders of New Bedford, which will build the new Bourne fire station, the temporary parking lot and a maintenance depot.

Both contractors were selected after a competitive bidding process.

Roughly $15 million will pay for so-called right-of-way costs, such as the taking of the homes and land for the project, Forman said, as well as for police details, landscaping and other costs.

The project is slightly behind schedule, she said, but "we are still dedicated to substantial completion by fall of 2006."

That's when the road is slated to open to traffic, Forman said, noting the entire project is expected to be finished by spring of 2007.

Generally referred to as the Sagamore "flyover," the project could perhaps more aptly be called the Sagamore underpass. A new road will link Route 3 directly to the bridge, while a new local underpass will connect Sagamore Beach and Buzzards Bay.

State officials predict that peak summer weekend travel time from just north of the current rotary to Route 6 on the Cape side of the bridge will drop from an average of 27 minutes to six.

While Cape lawmakers and Bourne residents generally support the project, some Sagamore residents have expressed doubts that the plan will make it easier for them to access their village.

The flyover project has been a priority of the Romney administration. The governor and other state officials say it will improve safety and traffic flow.

"I know Gov. Romney would like to see this done as soon as possible," Jennie Lee Colofi, owner of E.T.&L., told the Times last month.

The Stow construction company built the final phase of the Route 25 connector in Bourne and is involved in the expansion of the Bourne landfill.

From The Cape Cod Times

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  • 3 weeks later...

'Flyover' groundbreaking set for tomorrow

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Gov. Mitt Romney is scheduled to attend the official groundbreaking of the $58 million North Sagamore rotary elimination project at 2:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3.

Work has been under way for three weeks with massive tree removal and earth clearing off the Scenic Highway beyond Church Lane and behind the Sorenti Shell complex beyond Canal Street.

The commuter lot along Route 3 northbound is being temporarily moved to behind Sorenti's and Dunkin' Donuts off Meeting House Lane as part of the first phase of the massive project designed to expedite traffic on and off Cape Cod.

Eliminating the rotary in favor of flow-through lanes to and from the Sagamore Bridge - as well as a redesigned Church Lane and a ramp to the bridge from Scenic Highway - is a personal goal of Romney, who wants to see the work completed by the end of his term.

The final completion date is the spring of 2007, and state Highway Department spokesmen say most of the work will be carried out without blocking traffic.

From The Upper Cape Codder

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Eliminating the rotary in favor of flow-through lanes to and from the Sagamore Bridge - is a personal goal of Romney, who wants to see the work completed by the end of his term.
The final completion date is the spring of 2007

Oh, so close Mitt, you are so outta there in '06.

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I wasn't interested in politics and such in 2000... was the Democratic Candidate (Jill O'Brien?) unusually weak or was Romney unusually strong?


It was Shannon O'Brien in 2002 (the Mass. gubenatorial elections are during the midterms). I think it was a combo of stong Mitt, weak Shannon. Shannon had some credibility issues. Romney came in from Utah after running the SLC winter games and knocked the incumbent, Jane Swift, out of the running. The Dems had it in the bag before Mitt got into it because Swift was so terrible. It doesn't hurt any that Mitt is a relatively attractive guy.

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  • 1 month later...

State gets go-ahead to tear down homes for Sagamore flyover

By CONOR BERRY STAFF WRITER | January 20, 2005

SAGAMORE - Now that the state has gathered all requisite paperwork, four Scenic Highway homes standing in the way of the Sagamore flyover project will go the way of the wrecking ball next month.

A demolition date has not been set, but the commonwealth couldn't knock down the gutted and abandoned houses, whose owners were forced to leave, until it received tax forms and other required paperwork.

Not surprisingly, some property owners did not exactly bend over backward to help the state.

The homes are owned by members of the Sorenti family of Sagamore. The state is in the process of compensating the Sorentis - as well as other landowners affected by the flyover project - for several family holdings near the Sagamore Rotary.

Using the power of eminent domain, the state took the properties to make room for the $58 million flyover project, a favorite of Gov. Mitt Romney's. The project officially broke ground last month, though preliminary work began in late November.

Jon Carlisle, a spokesman for the state Executive Office of Transportation and Construction, which is overseeing the project, said around $3.3 million will be disbursed to various landowners, including the Sorentis.

The well-known Sagamore family owns businesses and several parcels in the vicinity of the Sagamore Rotary and has criticized the project. The flyover, as the project is commonly called, calls for replacing the rotary with a roadway directly linking Route 3 and the Sagamore Bridge approach.

State officials contend the work will ease traffic congestion and enhance public safety. However, the Sorentis and other critics believe otherwise, arguing the flyover will not achieve its stated objective and will harm local businesses.

Carlisle has said in past interviews with the Cape Cod Times that the state initially had some difficulty identifying who owned which properties. It also had difficulty securing property owners' Social Security numbers and tax information.

Now, however, the state has received paperwork from "everyone that we needed" it from, Carlisle said yesterday. Demolition of the Scenic Highway homes is "moving along" and on schedule, he said.

Two state compensation checks have already been issued - one in the amount of $1.7 million and the other in the amount of $175,000 - for two Sagamore properties owned by the Sorentis, Carlisle said.

The larger check was for land at the corner of Meeting House Lane and Canal Street, while the smaller amount was for a Church Lane property.

According to state records, the landowner for both parcels is Sorenti Brothers Inc., which has done snow-removal work for the state, according to Carlisle. That meant that the company's tax identification number was already on file with MassHighways, he said, enabling the state to issue the checks without any holdups.

While it took some time to gather the remaining "tax info," said Carlisle, that material "has been obtained" and compensation checks will be mailed "soon." He could not be more specific.

Joseph Sorenti Jr. admitted that his family has not willingly worked with the state, which invariably delayed the compensation process.

Sorenti accused the state of "low-balling" his family by offering compensation amounts well below what the properties would have fetched in the current Cape real estate climate.

Still angry over the flyover project, Sorenti Jr. questioned why anyone would make it easier for the state to seize their home.

"Would you help them," he asked rhetorically.

State payments

Other checks to be disbursed to Sagamore landowners, including to members of the Sorenti family, include:

  • $230,000 for property at 1029 Scenic Highway

  • $235,000 for property at 1031 Scenic Highway

  • $375,000 for properties at 1049 and 1053 Scenic Highway

  • $451,000 for land near the Mobil Station on Meetinghouse Lane, just off the rotary

  • $41,000 for a "strip-taking" - literally a small strip of land - along Route 3

  • $25,000 for a Meetinghouse Lane strip-taking near McDonald's restaurant

  • $150,000 for another Meetinghouse Lane property

From The Cape Cod Times

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If railroad service had been restored to the Cape, wouldn't this project have been unnecessary?


Probably not, though I would have liked to have seen restored rail service, or a proposed bus lane for Route 6 tied to this project.

I support the Flyover on safety considerations, the Sagamore Rotary is one of the most dangerous intersections in the state. Improved mass-transit would not have reduced the amount of traffic enough to greatly reduce the accident rate.

There needs to be a good transit network on the Cape itself before we can expect too many vacationers to leave their cars behind when heading there, I think rail service aimed at tourists would be doomed to failure at this point, however commuter service, with schedules planned to allow for vacationers needs (i.e. extra trains at the ends of the weekend) would be a good idea.

Also high-speed ferries to Barnstable Harbour on the northside with bus service from there throughout the Mid-Cape would be a good way to relieve traffic created by tourists. It's something that would be attractive to day-trippers and weekenders from Boston.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I have lots to say on this subject!

Last summer I lived and worked right on the scenic highway! it IS a nightmare! you see... on Saturdays, people are switching rentals that day. So the renters are leaving, and the new renters are coming to the cape.

With only 2 ways off the cape, and the thousands who are trying to leave or come, the 2 bridges just can't handle the traffic. In the restaurant I worked at, i saw first hand the people stuck in the traffic on route 6... with the heat and exhaust fumes.... people were just going nuts!! only a few places to stop and use the restrooms... and only 2 places to pull off the road... it is truly a nightmare.

If you have ever driven the scenic highway (rte 6) it is a high speed road... 60 mph plus... with no median strip. well on saturdays and sundays especially... if you move 10 feet in 10 minutes you are doing good!

Something definately needs to be done, yes... ridding the sagamore rotary is good... but it isnt the complete answer to the problem. When it comes to rotaries, people are stupid!!! I could go on and on telling you stories about them, because i travel them everyday. You have to also remember, the Bourne bridge has a rotary.. and there is as many people coming in from rtes 25, 495, and 195... that problem hasnt even been addressed.

i also wanted to mention the people whose homes were taken away from them in order to build the flyover. One empty house had a message painted on its roof..... saying "Is the check in the mail yet?". and another house the people refuse to leave. they are still living there amongst the massive construction going on around them.

People have lost their homes... to accomadate the people who vacation on the cape for maybe 10 weeks out of the year.

My husband and I plan our days around the traffic jams. All our shopping is done during the week. For us to go out for a nice sunday drive on cape cod is impossible!!!!

One other thing about living on cape cod is the wintertime problems. there has been a few times I had to go over the bridge and the bridges were closed

due to icing, snow removal, or accidents from people driving 60 mph over the 2 bridges. its a scarey thought that you are stuck over here sometimes, and god forbid its an emergency!!

Well through all my complaints.... My family is moving north... off cape cod... ;-)

no more worries and headaches this summer for my family!

And i havent mentioned that this spring and fall they will start bridge repairs on the sagamore... making the bridge only 2 lanes!!!!

i know one thing.... March 1st will be the last time I will have to worry about cape cod.... there are lots of beautiful beaches up and down the massachusetts coastline and the traffic won't be a nightmare getting there.

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Temporary ramps aimed at easing Cape travel this summer

By Associated Press | Wednesday, February 23, 2005

BOSTON - Temporary ramps carrying Route 3 traffic to and from the Sagamore Bridge and bypassing the oft-clogged rotary below are expected to be completed before Cape Cod's tourist rush begins on Memorial Day weekend, a state transportation official said.

"We have an aggressive winter schedule meant to minimize any intrusion on summer traffic," Transportation Secretary Daniel Grabauskas told The Patriot Ledger of Quincy. "Traffic impact was a priority. So far, contractors have met every milestone on time and the project is on schedule."

The state broke ground Dec. 3 on the $58.2 million highway project replacing the Sagamore rotary in Bourne with a direct connection from Route 3 to the Sagamore Bridge. The rotary, built in the 1930s, exceeded its 40,000 daily capacity long ago and now sees about 90,000 cars a day. During summer, the rotary routinely produces weekend backup of 5 miles or more.

Workers have started the foundations for the temporary ramp that will connect the bridge and Route 3 northbound. Travelers leaving the Cape will be able to continue northbound on Route 3, or exit to a temporary connector road to Route 6 or Sagamore Beach.

Work was to begin this week on the temporary southbound ramp that will take drivers from Route 3 directly onto the bridge, officials said Tuesday.

The temporary northbound ramp should be finished in about a month, weather permitting, officials said. Contractors plan to finish both ramps before Cape-bound summer traffic begins to pour over the bridge in late May.

The improvements are expected to reduce travel times from just north of the bridge to Route 6 on the Cape Cod side from 27 minutes to 6 minutes.

A new underpass for local traffic eventually will link the Bourne neighborhoods of Sagamore Beach and Buzzards Bay.

Work also has started on a new Bourne fire station and a new state highway salt shed that are part of the overall project. A new commuter parking lot near the rotary has been completed.

Contractors will continue to work on removing the rotary and building permanent lanes onto the bridge during the summer.

Most of the work should be finished by fall 2006, with final completion slated for spring 2007. The project was among Gov. Mitt Romney's highway priorities.

From Boston Herald

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Last summer I lived and worked right on the scenic highway!


You're a lunatic, why would you do that to yourself?!

My parents, hell my whole family, still lives on the Cape. I almost never visit them during the summer. I almost killed my uncle when he decided to have his wedding on the 4th of July! I ended up taking the ferry from Boston to Provincetown, then the bus to Hyannis, rather than sitting in bridge traffic for my whole life. Growing up we would never leave during the summer, we would take a vacation to New Hampshire in April, and that was the end of our off-Cape travel.

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  • 2 weeks later...

You're a lunatic, why would you do that to yourself?!

My parents, hell my whole family, still lives on the Cape. I almost never visit them during the summer. I almost killed my uncle when he decided to have his wedding on the 4th of July! I ended up taking the ferry from Boston to Provincetown, then the bus to Hyannis, rather than sitting in bridge traffic for my whole life. Growing up we would never leave during the summer, we would take a vacation to New Hampshire in April, and that was the end of our off-Cape travel.


lmao..... i lived in walking distance of my job, i NEVER would drive in that mess!!

I hear you on not leaving the cape during the summertime... i have talked to ppl who never have crossed the bridges!

as far as the flyovers progress goes... they have started the temporary ramps.. still havent quite figured out how its gonna work yet. i have moved to plymouth now, so i wont have to worry anymore ;-)

now we just deal with the tourists here, which i can handle!

and plymouth has some beautiful beaches too.... along with pilgrims!!

Springtime is near ;-)


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  • 1 year later...


Almost there [Cape Cod Times]

BOURNE - State officials hope this weekend marks the final holiday traffic jam on the Sagamore Rotary.

Construction on the ''flyover'' project, which will eliminate the notorious traffic circle at the Sagamore Bridge in favor of a grade-separated interchange, remains on schedule to be finished by May, said Erik Abell, spokesman for the Massachusetts Highway Department. The rotary itself could be phased out by the end of the year, he said.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Personally, I think the new traffic patterns will be a nightmare for traffic on the Scenic Highway. I'm glad I come from Providence, I'll be using the Bourne Bridge and taking Route 28 to Route 151 from now on.

What makes you think that? It seems as though anything that gets rid of the rotary set up will be an improvement. Now access from the Scenic Highway over the bridge is direct too.

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What makes you think that? It seems as though anything that gets rid of the rotary set up will be an improvement. Now access from the Scenic Highway over the bridge is direct too.

Over the bridge for the Scenic Highway isn't the problem, though the problem will effect that traffic. There's three traffic lights and two left turns for traffic from the Scenic Highway to get to Route 3 North and three traffic lights for through traffic to reach Scusset Beach and Sagamore Beach. Traffic to the bridge is supposed to stay right, and traffic to Sagamore Beach and Route 3 is supposed to stay left, but when the left lane is backed up to Bournedale and the right lane is open, you know through traffic will jump into the right lane and try to merge left at the lane split.

The Scenic Highway should have met 3/6 with a full speed t-interchange with eastbound trough traffic from the Scenic Highway dipping under the interchange. Traffic from the bridge at Route 3 to Meetinghouse Lane and Sagamore Beach should have used a new exit 1 north of the t-interchange to access State Road (Route 3A) and head to Meetinghouse and the service areas.

I fear the back roads from Bournedale to Exit 2 on Route 3 will be more jammed than ever. There may also be more traffic using the Bourne Bridge to get to the southside By-Pass 6 and reach 3 North via the Sagamore Bridge. Getting from By-Pass 6 to 3 North puts traffic on local surface roads though.

I do like that South 3 is reduced to one lane to access the bridge and one lane from the Scenic Highway merges with that to form the 2-lanes over the bridge. Though I think the same issue may emerge with traffic that should be staying left for the bridge using the right lane and trying to merge at the last second. It's better than the north side of the Bourne Bridge though, where 3 lanes of Route 25 (4 lanes if you count the sh*theads who speed up the breakdown lane) has to merge with traffic coming from Buzzards Bay onto the highway, then reduce to 2 lanes to cross the bridge. I guess you can't engineer out assh*le drivers though.

I'm generally against road building and adding capacity, and I certainly think rail to the Cape should have been part of the flyover project (and ferry service). But the bridges are such a bottleneck and make life miserable for people who live near the canal. I would have liked to have seen a third bridge, make the Sagamore one way off (three lanes and a breakdown lane and/or expanded bike lane, it's not actually wide enough for 4 lanes as it has now), the new bridge (the Standish Bridge?) one way on-Cape with rail on that bridge. Then the Scenic Highway should be made limited access with a median and no traffic lights to directly connect Route 25 to the Sagamore Bridge. An overpass in Bournedale can allow U-turns and access to the visitors center there. This is a safety improvement more than a capacity improvement, though making it limited access would improve capacity.

Coupled with the improved capacity should be smart growth practices in South Sagamore on the Cape-side of the Sagamore Bridge, and Buzzards Bay on the mainland side of the Bourne Bridge.

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Oh I didn't see that traffic light on the Scenic Highway...

Amtrak used to run summer service to the Cape using a peice meal path of railroad corridors that are now freight only. I beleive it went from Attleboro, through Taunton, out to Middleborough and then down the trash train line through Wareham.

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The current Middleboro commuter rail stop is on the same tracks that continue to Buzzards Bay station (there's already a station there for the dinner train) and over the bridge to the Falmouth and Mid Cape lines. The track would need upgrades for regular service, and there is a grade crossing in Downtown Wareham that would need some safety issues addressed, but service could run.

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