Communities across Cape Cod, the state, and the nation are eagerly exploring ways to expand pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to improve quality of life for their residents, support economic development, and address traffic and safety conditions for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. The Outer Cape towns of Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown are in the early stages of planning a northern extension of the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and the recently formed Bikeways and Pedestrian Committee in Sandwich is currently working to connect the southeastern end of the Cape Cod Canal Recreation Path to Sandwich Village with on-street pavement markings and signage.
The improvements in Sandwich aim to leverage two community assets—the vibrant downtown village and the Cape Cod Canal—through enhanced connectivity. The projects taking shape across the Cape are part of a regional plan to make infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians into a cohesive and safe transportation network.
As in other communities, there is great interest in expanding bike and pedestrian infrastructure in Bourne. The potential for developing a trail within the existing railroad bed along the Woods Hole Branch line—directly linking the southwestern end of the canal bike path at the railroad bridge with the northern end of the Shining Sea Bikeway in North Falmouth—is garnering excitement in the community. Completing the 6.5 mile section in Bourne will create approximately 24 miles of uninterrupted trail on the Upper Cape that would connect Sandwich, Bourne, Falmouth, and Woods Hole.
The trail in Bourne passes through four villages (Gray Gables, Monument Beach, Pocasset, and Cataumet) and some of Bourne’s most scenic and treasured coastal areas in Monks Cove, Pocasset River estuary, and Red Brook Harbor. The path will breathe new economic life into these villages and restore the corridor’s historic purpose to provide mobility for the Upper Cape’s residents and draw visitors to the community and region. Safety conditions along Shore Road for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists will also be greatly improved by shifting non-motorized traffic to the path.
In March of 2016, the Bourne Transportation Advisory Committee voted unanimously to move forward with a feasibility study for the extension. This is an important step in the community conversation about the project; the Cape Cod Commission’s study will explore the potential for creating a path adjacent to the existing railroad tracks and the possibility of removing the tracks and developing a trail in its place.
In the Spring of 2017, the Cape Cod Commission completed the feasibility study, which explored three options for connecting the paths within the publicly owned land that has historically been used as a rail corridor. These include "rail-to-trail (developing path and removing the tracks)" and two options for "rail-with-trail" (maintaining the rail tracks and locating path adjacent to rail). In citing the tremendous potential benefits that the project will bring to the region and the "overwhelming support for the project," the Commission recommended that the project move forward to the next phase of the planning and design process.