Falmouth’s Great Bay Street In Rough Shape; Town Working On Solution

By GILDA GEIST, 3/22/2022 (both online and in print on page 9 of The Falmouth Enterprise).

Wind and stormwater runoff have left this section of Great Bay Street on the Maravista peninsula unpassable by vehicles. GILDA GEIST/ENTERPRISE

The town is working with an engineering consultant to figure out what to do about an ongoing erosion problems along Great Bay Street, which is located on the banks of Great Pond on the Maravista peninsula.

Wind and stormwater runoff have been eroding the area for many years, to the point where the town has closed the road to vehicle traffic, cordoning it off with boulders and caution tape. 

“There are probably no inexpensive options,” Town Manager Michael Renshaw said in regards to repairs to the street.

The worst of the problem is in the section of Great Bay Street between Providence and Hiawatha streets. Both of these roads slant downward toward Great Bay Street and toward the pond, so whenever it rains, stormwater flows into the pond and erodes the bank even more.

Part of the bank juts out over a few feet of beach leading up to the pond where water has washed away sediment. This has also left tree roots exposed, undermining the structural integrity of the trees. If trees start to fall into the pond as a result of this erosion, that will remove even more sediment from the bank, Mr. Renshaw said.

Great Bay Street resident John C. Francis has watched this erosion problem worsen over the last 10 to 15 years. During a winter storm in January, a chunk of Great Bay Street washed away, leaving a large gash in the road that has made way for even more erosion. The gash is about two feet wide and one travels about four feet from the path all the way to the edge of the bank, crumbing down onto the beach below. Mr. Francis said the erosion concerns him because it poses a safety issue and it could have an impact on property values. Mr. Francis said his neighbors share his concerns.

Mr. Francis said he has brought his concerns to the town multiple times, beginning in 2018. He contacted the town again this year after January’s storm.

Recently Peter McConarty, director of the Department of Public Works, showed Mr. Renshaw the problem area. The two have been meeting with engineers, who are about halfway through an analysis that will yield cost estimates for different remediation options. Whatever solution the town decides on, it will be included in upcoming capital budget planning to be brought to November Town Meeting, Mr. Renshaw said.

Mr. Renshaw said Mr. McConarty told him that the erosion problem is caused mainly by runoff and wind, not by wave or tidal action in Great Pond itself.

Mr. Renshaw said the work to fix the area will likely have to be done in phases—the problem area is about a half-mile’s worth of road, he said.