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As of this update, there are no formal designs for the path. Staff anticipate early designs to be available in the spring of 2023. During fall and winter of 2022 and spring of 2023, staff will post information about public engagement opportunities. We encourage you to stay involved!
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A sidepath is a paved linear path that is wider than a sidewalk. Sidepaths support walking, bicycling, and other mobility needs including babystrollers, wheelchairs, and rollerbladers. Typically, sidepaths are separated from traffic by landscape panels to improve safety but follow the general trajectory of an adjacent roadway. In some cases, sidepaths deviate slightly from the roadway based on the presence of streams, trees, and hills. Sidepaths are often referred to as shared use paths or multiuse paths: these terms all have the same meaning.
In 1977, the Town developed a master plan for bicycle facilities (shown in the map below). Residents and planners had the foresight to recognize the value of separating bicycles and pedestrians from vehicular traffic along Wauwinet Road, which has numerous twists, turns, and grade changes. While the vision for walking and bicycling for the island has flourished with the development of numerous paths, the need to address nonmotorists’ safety remains on Wauwinet Road. Beyond safety, Wauwinet Road facilitates access between the northeast corner of the island—encompassing beautiful beaches and conservation land—and the island’s core. These assets generate significant travel demand for nonmotorists and motorists alike. Separating nonmotorists from the vehicular travel path will improve convenience for all road users.
The town was awarded two separate grants from the Federal Land Access Program (FLAP), a program managed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The FLAP program seeks to improve community access to federally-held conservation properties—in this case, the Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge. The implementation of a path will provide pedestrians, cyclists, and other rollers better access to the main point of embarkation for tours of the refuge.
The first FLAP award was granted in 2016. The federal government committed $283,200 with a local match of $70,800 to support the design of the path. In a second 2018 award, the federal government committed $1,000,000 with a local match of $250,000 to support partial construction of the path between Polpis and Pocomo. In 2019, the Annual Town Meeting approved authorization to borrow $354,000 to support cash flow for the first grant award, intended to fund design services.
The town is working with the Federal Highway Administration to advance design of the path. Once this stage is complete, actual construction costs will be identified and shared on this website. Staff estimates that the grant awards and their local matches will not be enough to fund the path and is exploring additional funding opportunities. For example, Nantucket’s regional NP&EDC applied for an additional $823,050 to support the path’s construction in the 2022 FLAP program cycle.
The design phase of the project will be managed by the Federal Highway Administration’s Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division. Their project management team will coordinate closely with local staff to ensure there are adequate and appropriate opportunities for engagement and review of concepts. The Select Board will need to endorse any design prior to advancing into any construction phase.
Staff is working to execute an agreement with FHWA’s Eastern Federal Lands Division to facilitate kick-off of the project’s design phase. Following this, coordination and design will commence. As of this update, staff anticipate early design to be available in the spring of 2023.
This will depend on ultimate construction costs and the availability of financial resources as well as any necessary easements. If funding is not available to fund implement that path in full following design, staff plans to explore mechanisms to support a phased-implementation approach.
Because no design is complete, the extent of impacts is not fully identified. Staff will work with federal highway, conservation interests, and the town’s Conservation Commission to limit impacts to the greatest extent possible. Where impacts are not avoidable, mitigation will be provided per the regulation and/or the discretion of the town’s conservation commission.
Excited? Concerned? Confused? Please contact Patrick Reed, Nantucket’s Transportation Program Manager for more information.
These FAQs were last updated August 29, 2022.