The Sagamore Flyover gets its first big test today. WBUR's Fred Thys meets the people whose businesses now get bypassed, and takes a test drive of the new project.TEXT OF STORY
FRED THYS: The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce is thrilled with the flyover. In their surveys they've found that tourists consistently complain that Cape is too hard to get to because of the traffic. The flyover is expected to cut the drive to the Cape by 25 minutes. And the Cape Cod Canal Chamber of Commerce says businesses are reporting improved traffic flow. The flyover is also supposed to be a lot safer than the rotary, which was one of the most dangerous intersections in Massachusetts. But under the flyover, just off where the rotary used to be, there's some confusion. Benjamin Merrill, who lives in Sandwich, has just come over to the mainland for the first time since the flyover opened.
BENJAMIN MERRILL: Boy! Seems to me the old rotary was a lot better than this.
THYS: Now why is that?
MERRILL: Confusion. I mean we came over this way to try to get back to the bus stop so my daughter could get back to Logan Airport, and I said: "Look at all these different roads."
THYS: At the Scusset Beach General Store, Jason Koval says the flyover has brought in some new customers.
JASON KOVAL: Absolutely. We get tons of people comin' in here asking for directions don't know where they're goin'.
THYS: Koval says the impact on business has been mixed.
KOVAL: When the construction workers were out there, work was good, but right now, I think, some people are still confused and can't find their way over here, so it's hurt us a little bit, yeah.
THYS: At Town Paint and Supply, next door, customer Nancy Moynihan, who lives in Plymouth, likes the flyover.
NANCY MOYNIHAN: I don't go over the Rotary too often, but when I have, I thought it was excellent. I thought it was much better, smoother. I think it's worked out great.
THYS: Frank Collie says he wants to write a letter to the Washington Post to tell people about Romney's idea.
FRANK COLLIE: and I think he ruined the threshhold to Cape Cod. He took something quaint, and he ruined it.
THYS: We asked Romney to talk about his project, but we didn't hear back from him. John Yeager takes the bridge every day to go to the bank.
JOHN YEAGER: Oh, it's a completely assinine idea. It's great for people going straight over, but guarantees that anybody not going straight over is going to get lost. Come summertime when the tourists actually get here, it's going to be a traffic nightmare, and jam everything up. And now that we have lanes of traffic merging over the bridge it's going to screw that up, too. It functions well during the non-tourist season, when there aren't that many cars going over, because it's a straight run, but the instant it has any number of cars, oh, it's awful.
THYS: Yeager says the hardware store gets much less business than it used to. The owner of the big Shell station, with its 11 pumps, doesn't want to be recorded, but he says he's lost half his business since the flyover has opened. The flyover is supposed to help people get on and off the Cape quickly. During the morning rush hour, as people who live off Cape head to work on the Cape, everything seems fine at first, until you get to a sign that says "Sagamore Bridge 2 Miles."
Okay, so we are just a little under two miles away from the bridge now, and traffic is stop and go. And now we see why, because there's a split. There's a sign here that says: "Exit 1A 6 West Buzzards' Bay Right Lane Exits 1 B and C East on Route 6 to 6A to Hyannis Left Lane". Cutting into traffic here, cutting into the left lane. Somebody very nicely let me through. Here the roadway splits. 6 West, you exit right to go to Buzzards' Bay, and Falmouth, and Scusset Beach Road, and there are actually two lanes that now go straight towards the Sagamore bridge. There's a big yellow sign that says "Lane Ends Merge Left". Okay, now we're on the Flyover. You can see the road that goes along the canal right below us. Of course we're stopped, not going anywhere. There are two lanes on the flyover, but the left lane's closed because of road work. As you go up on the ramp the bridge, it's still only one lane, and then all of a sudden, it opens up to two lanes, and now traffic is moving. We're not on the bridge going over the canal and everything is going smoothly, just like it used to when you got through the Sagamore Rotary.
The Massachusetts Highway Commissioner says that road work was some last-minute preparation for the big day today, and should be cleared by the time the major traffic hits the flyover.
This program aired on May 25, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.