Last week the concrete foundation for the Chappy cell tower was poured. Nearly 75 yards of concrete came over on the ferry, two and a half yards at a time on two separate days. We ran both ferries during that time to avoid holding up the regular traffic and to keep the trucks moving as we were racing against the tides.

All went well and on Sunday evening the monopole sections for the cell tower came over on the ferry. The tower consists of three heavily galvanized tapered tubes. The bottom section has a huge flange that gets bolted to the foundation. The middle and top sections slip over the section below, overlapping by six feet.

The company assembling the tower, Cotton Tree Service, has put up towers three times taller than this one. So, this one is not a great challenge for them. However, the logistics of moving materials and equipment to Chappaquddick is a challenge.

The tall crane which will lift the tower sections into place and attach the gizmos to the tower is way too heavy for the ferry, so it came over on John Packer’s barge which has been working on various projects around Katama Bay and Edgartown Harbor. The crane was loaded aboard the barge at the town ramp at Mattakessett and unloaded at the ferry point. The barge carries its own ramp.

The tractor trailers that brought the tower sections over have only one choice for approaching the ferry on the Edgartown side. They must come all of the way down Main street and turn left onto Dock street. It’s nearly impossible to make the turn off Main street onto North Water street and even if they lucked out on that one, the turn off of North Water street down onto Daggett street is actually impossible for this type of trailer. Years ago, it could be done by getting up onto the sidewalk, but with the installation of traditional lamp posts that option is no longer available.

Once the tractor trailer arrives at the Chappy ferry end of Dock street things get interesting. The laws of physics rule out the possibility of turning right and driving onto the ferry. Though I did witness Trip Barnes do it once back in 1979 with a moving van trailer when the

ferry waiting line still ran along Dock street. It took a whole lot of backing and filling. The corner trim on the Sculpin Gallery had to be replaced after that.

Our current method of dealing with that situation is have the tractor trailer swing head first into the Memorial Wharf parking lot and aim directly for the flag pole. Then it backs up onto Daggett street. It’s pretty tricky to get the end of the trailer into the narrow slot between the Sculpin Gallery and the Daggett House fence and still have room to swing the cab over to get the trailer lined up enough to back up a whole vehicle length. The trailer needs to be right alongside the wall of the gallery to get a clear shot onto the ferry ramp. It sometimes takes a few tries. It also takes some planning ahead to make sure that the parking spaces alongside the ferry house are vacant. Since these trucks are heavy it needs to be done at high tide. If at all possible we do it during the evening off-hours of the winter schedule. In the summer, we try do it before the ferry starts running in the morning.

A full-length tractor trailer hardly depresses the end of the ferry when getting on or off since the weight is so spread out. The wheels of the cab are passing over the engine hatch before the rear of the trailer gets onto the ramp. It’s nothing compared to loading a concrete truck where the water almost comes up onto the deck.

Getting a tractor trailer off Chappy involves basically the reverse. The truck drives forward onto the ferry on the Chappy side, the ferry turns around mid-channel and the truck backs off the ferry far enough up Daggett street to make the turn onto Dock street. There is very little room for error in backing a tractor trailer off of the ferry. But it can be done.

The final trick is getting such a long vehicle out of town. We alert the police well in advance and they escort the vehicle the wrong way up Main street. They much prefer that to dealing with extracting a truck hung up on the corner of Winter street.

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