(old pic, but it is actually a restrained depiction of this weekend's traffic)
If you tried to leave Cape Cod yesterday, you know what I'm talking about.
For instance... I had to go from Sagamore to Hyannis and back at 10 PM last night. As I went down Route 6, I noticed that the traffic coming off-Cape wasn't really moving much. I then started dreading my trip back to Saggy, because that static line of cars stretched back past Exit 6, where I got off.
That's at least 12.8 miles. By contrast, as I was researching hurricane information this weekend, I found that Hurricane Bob's evacuation only produced 11 mile delays.
WXTK is reporting that there was still a 3 mile backup on Route 6 at 11:30 PM. I only got home the same day that I left by using extreme local knowledge of back roads.
If anyone tells you that Cape Cod can be safely and promptly evacuated in an emergency, they either A) are foolish, or B) think you are. Simple and plain.
I tried to bail off 6 and use 130 and 6A to get back to Sagamore. Nope. Driving from Exit 2 on route 6 west to the Sagamore Bridge along 130 and 6A yesterday took me over 90 minutes, and that was with clear roads from 130/6A to the Christmas Tree Shop. If I had abandoned the car and walked, I would have made it home twice as fast, and that's with a 7 year old along for the walk. Solo, I would have made it home 3 times as fast.
The only victory I had? I merged back onto Route 6 by cutting in front of the truck I was stuck behind on Route 6 before I bailed off. I knew it was the same truck, because I had let the guy merge in front of me by Quaker Meetinghouse Road and he waved. When he let me merge in Sagamore, we looked at each other and laughed.
Granted, it was the Sunday of July 4th weekend. But I had to make the same run Saturday, and the same thing happened... other than the one-in-a-million mutual merge. This was following my underwater NDE drive through Hurricane Arthur Friday.
This isn't that big of a news story, as those internets in the 1940s most likely were chock full of stuck-in-traffic kvetching. You know that there was at least one guy who stormed the beach at Normandy screaming bloody murder and choking Nazis with his bare hands who broke down and sobbed like a schoolgirl after being stuck in bumpa-to-bumpa traffic between Barnstable and Buzzards Bay.
I know a guy who works at the Quality Inn by the Bourne Rotary. He says that, every summer Sunday evening, he gets at least one person who checks in on the spur of the moment because they could see no end to the gridlock and wanted to get at least some sleep. Buzzards Bay pizza shops often demur when asked to deliver across the bridge on summer weekends. Locals- myself excluded- know better than to go out on Fridays and Sundays, at least in the afternoon.
I am mostly writing this because I want to be the first person to document a unique local phenomenon: Cottage Turnover Gridlock.
Saturday's jam made no sense. It was around 1 PM, and 6 West was going nowhere fast... and, to be honest, nowhere slow. I can understand- and was able to witness- traffic going on-Cape being heavy, as Saturday turned into a pretty nice beach day. The day after a tropical storm is always a fine weather event, and the Cape was filling up.
But why was it emptying in such volume? After some discussion- we had the time, mind you- we finally figured it out.
Cottages are often weekly or bi-weekly rentals. Hotels also work the same way, but daily. The typical time one has to be out of a cottage or a hotel room is 11 AM. It is natural to stop for a meal before taking a long ride home, great minds think alike, and all of those great minds were jammed onto 6 West by 1 PM.
I went out again at 3 PM, and the roads were clear.
I'm sure that the Old School is laughing at my rookie error, but we all live and learn.
I plan to try to chase down Randy Hunt and Wendy Northcross this week to see if they'll answer my questions about the prospects of a third bridge.
(...but not cars)
Another thing I want to mention is the parking situation on Main Street in Buzzards Bay. This isn't a rant about how many of the businesses have only one parking spot in front of them, as that deserves a standalone article.
This is more Entertainment than Complaining, although I tend to have a whining element to my tone when I speak of things like traffic. However, read this in the spirit that I'm writing it. I've had some ridiculous parking disputes in my life, especially when I lived on Duxbury Beach. I'm enured to parking disputes to the point where I happily purchased a cottage in Buzzards Bay which I have to walk 50 yards uphill to from the central parking area, a cottage on a road where two bicycles can't pass side-by-side.
Therefore, when you come across a doozy of a dispute like this Main Street one, you can just sit back and have a nice uninvolved laugh.
Here are the basics. Vincent Michienzi is on the town planning board, and he also is a developer who owns several properties on Main Street. One of those properties is an empty lot. If you shop around there at all, you're familiar with it. It's the one between Sea Breeze Optical and Antique Affair. It used to be a movie theater, but the only film showing there now is 'Salem's (Vacant) Lot.
If you didn't know the lot before, you can spot it very easily now. It is blocked off from the road by a barricade of boulders and tree trunks.
The lot was being used for parking by both adjacent businesses and Massachusetts Maritime Academy cadets. Adequate parking is available at the Academy (parking spots there are still unsold), but kids will be kids, and they tend to seek out freebies where they can get them. They also shop for cheap deals, as I know a few people over in the Taylor's Point neighborhood who rent space in their driveway to cadets.
Mr. Michienzi, who is now being called "Stonewall" in various homes around town, was tolerating several cadets parking on his property. The cadets, and the people parking there to use businesses, were less than courteous when it came to dumping garbage out of their cars. Michienzi, who is not a man with a lot of idle free time, slowly tired of picking up the garbage day after day.
He tried to sell the property to the Academy. The MMA, who can't sell the spaces they have already, never sealed the deal. They also lacked the authority to ticket cadet vehicles on non-MMA property.
The police advised Michienzi to tow the cars from his property. He did just that a few weeks ago, as an armada of wreckers came, saw, and conquered the lot back into Vacant status. The internet nearly crashed as MMA cadets started spreading the word, and the faster-reacting kids managed to get their cars out of danger.
To ensure that this does not happen again, Michienzi barricaded the lot. In doing so, he eliminated some business parking, including the parking used by the elderly patrons of the optician. He also created an eyesore of the highest order. It looks like something you'd construct to repel an assault on Bunker Hill.
I'm sure that it will be a frequently discussed issue as the summer progresses.
I- and I'm not an expert- feel that Stonewall should be able to do whatever he wants with the lot. If he wants to dig a moat around it... hey, whoever disagrees with him should have outbid him for the property in question. The fire department says that the barricade is not a fire hazard.
I suppose he'd stand to make a pretty penny renting spots in the lot during the Canal Centennial Celebration later this month, and it's hard to rent spots that have freeloading cars poaching the spots. Maybe he'll move the eyesore once the tourists leave, but I wouldn't blame him if he didn't.
I suppose that the solution would be something along the lines of the town and the MMA working together to ensure that cadet cars stay on campus. Failing that, Mr. Michienzi may wish to employ an agent to rent spots to cadets, who would then be held accountable for the litter they generate.
If all else fails, he should at least make something cool of the barricade. I'd do a Great Wall Of Bourne, maybe rent a few guys out of the Way Ho to man the watchtower.