Sagamore Traffic Hurts Barnstable Bussinesses
By: James Kinsella
Eighteen miles separate the Cape Cod Harbor House Inn on Ocean Street in Hyannis from the Sagamore Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal.
As far as Kenneth Komenda is concerned, though, it might as well be 1,800.
"It's like somebody turned off the faucet," said Mr. Komenda, the innkeeper at the Harbor House, about the effect that work on the Sagamore Bridge has had on the Hyannis Inn.
The bridge work, which began after Labor Day, has closed two lanes of traffic on the four-lane bridge and resulted in summer-level traffic jams for those trying to get on and off the Cape this fall.
Mr. Komenda, who has worked as the Harbor House innkeeper for nine years, acknowledged the slow national economy and wet summer weather also contributed to a downturn in business at the inn, which sits across Ocean Street from Hyannis Inner Harbor.
But he said the effect of the recent work on the bridge, which can add hours to a trip on or off the Cape, "is worse than the other two [contributing factors] combined."
Businesses throughout Barnstable are feeling the effects of the repair work on the bridge, which got under way in mid-September and often requires the closing of two of the bridge's four lanes.
Deborah Converse, president and chief executive officer of the Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce, said she believes the traffic delays arising from the work are impacting local businesses.
"People are thinking twice" about driving to the Cape, she said.
She can testify to the kind of delay the work can generate. Her bus trip to Boston to catch a plane to San Francisco took twice as long as usual: three hours instead of 90 minutes.
Boston-area residents who usually would head south to the Cape for a trip can easily head for a northern destination instead, she said.
Mr. Komenda, at the Harbor House, said some customers have told him that they were canceling their reservations because of the bridge delays. Others showed up but said that due to the traffic delays, they would not be coming back.
A couple of weeks before the Columbus Day weekend, Mr. Komenda said, the inn had two rooms open. By the time the weekend arrived, he said, the inn had the same two rooms open.
William Catania, president of the Hyannis-based Catania Hospitality Group, which operates hotels and restaurants on both sides of the Cape Cod Canal including the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis, said the bridge work "definitely put a damper on things."
Mr. Catania said business was picking up in September when the bridge work slowed the flow of business.
He suspects the bridge delays even are affecting business at the group's John Carver Inn in Plymouth.
People who head to the inn, he said, often will include a Cape visit as part of their trip. With traffic clogging approaches to both sides of the Sagamore Bridge, he said, they may be choosing to drop the whole trip.
Mr. Catania said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and maintains the bridges, may not have realized how the Cape's summer season has expanded through September to the Columbus Day weekend. "They would never do it in August," he said.
But he said he wishes that the corps had waited to start the work until after the Columbus Day weekend, and scheduled the work only at night.
A spokesman for the Army Corps, Timothy J. Dugan, said yesterday that construction workers cannot do paving work when the temperature falls below a certain point. Further, Mr. Dugan said, “We try to wait as long as possible after the main tourist season.”
That gives the corps and its contractor, R. Zoppo Corporation of Stoughton, a limited seasonal window in the fall and spring to work on the bridge. The corps has shut down the work on recent weekends to accommodate the increased traffic flow, but Mr. Dugan said those shutdowns may now force a third season of work on the bridge, in the fall of 2010.
Leave a Reply
In order to comment you need to be logged in.