Feds Reach Agreement On Hybrid Drawbridge Design
by Alan Pollock
CHATHAM — The
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has signed a memorandum of
agreement (MOA) that likely clears the way for construction of a
replacement Mitchell River drawbridge made of steel, concrete and wood.
The formal agreement
on the bridge design brings to a close the bulk of the so-called Section
106 process which preservationists used to lobby for a wooden
replacement bridge, and there is no appeal process. Chatham Coastal
Resources Director Ted Keon said he consulted with the Massachusetts
Department of Transportation to confirm this fact.
“The MOA does include
the requirement for continued consultation with the consulting parties
over certain key design features as spelled out in the MOA,” Keon wrote
in an email to The Chronicle. “There will also be the opportunity for
further public comment as part of the NEPA (National Environmental
Policy Act) process when the draft Environmental Assessment is prepared
and released for comment.”
In her May 14 letter
to the Federal Highway Administration, Charlene Dwin Vaughn of the
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation thanked officials for hearing
the comments of preservationists.
“Despite the lack of
consensus among consulting parties regarding the outcome, we appreciate
the efforts taken by FHWA and MassDOT to balance historic preservation
values with other factors. We believe that the outcome of the
consultation will result in a new Mitchell River Bridge that is an asset
to the community,” she wrote.
Norm Pacun of the
Friends of the Mitchell River Wooden Drawbridge said the council's
decision is disappointing, but there is still a chance the U.S.
Department of the Interior will favor a wooden replacement bridge as
part of the required filing under Section 4F of the Federal
Transportation Act. Even if the hybrid design prevails, Pacun said his
group will be lobbying hard for aesthetic improvements to the design,
and for other changes that will reduce the speed of auto traffic moving
over the new bridge.
complete coverage of the story in our May 24 edition.