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$5M outdoor, inclined elevator project in Provincetown to start May 18

April 29, 2020 | Alex Darus | Website

Linking Pilgrim Monument to downtown is century-old idea, planners say

PROVINCETOWN — While visitors often stand along Bradford Street admiring the Pilgrim Monument, there’s been no easy or obvious way for them to visit, according to K. David Weidner, executive director of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.

The start of a $5 million project the week of May 18 to build an outdoor, inclined elevator is meant to ease the confusion, Weidner said. The schedule could change based on the ongoing coronavirus situation. In total, construction is expected to take nine months, with the project being completed at the beginning of next year.

“We’re counting on more people visiting our museum and understanding that we actually have a museum,” Weidner said.

The start date of what is called the Bradford Access Project was announced in recent days, as is a new partnership between the museum and The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod. The project is being paid for by the nonprofit Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association, which owns the monument and museum. The bank provided a $4.5 million loan, joining the support for the project from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and MassDevelopment, according to Weidner.

The elevator will run from an area near the intersection of Ryder and Bradford streets, up a slope, on a two-minute ride, to the top of High Point Hill and the monument grounds.

The goal is to create an easier flow of foot traffic between the monument and downtown, and provide a physical link between the two. While it seems like a new idea in town, it’s actually been thought about for “well over 100 years” since the museum was constructed, Weidner said.

The actual elevator is being built in Switzerland, but all other aspects of the construction are connected to Cape Cod. Harwich-based contractor Robert B. Our Company will lead the project and construction will be assisted by Jay Cashman, whose ancestors were involved in building the original monument.

While the project has been called a funicular, technically the transport mechanism is an inclined elevator according to state elevator codes, Weidner said. The elevator uses a cab on a cable system to transport people up and down the hill while a funicular has a conductor to operate it, he said.

“It’s just like you go into an office building,” Weidner said. “You push the button and you go up and down in the elevator.”

In December 2018, the planning board approved the enclosed cabin to carry people 80 feet up a narrow track from the Bas Relief Park on Bradford Street to the monument atop High Pole Hill. The next month, Paul Teixeira of Chelsea, a trustee of the abutting condominium building at 116 Bradford St., filed a suit in Massachusetts Land Court against the nonprofit association and the planning board.

Teixeira was skeptical the hill could support the 50-ton railway system, and he didn’t believe the town had taken proper measures to ensure that it would, stated Teixeira’s attorney, Julie Pruitt Barry of Prince Lobel Tye, in court documents.

Teixeira believed the planning board did not obtain a geologic study that demonstrates the hill can support all that weight, did not conduct a site visit of Teixeira’s property, did not provide an adequate traffic study and did not consider alternatives to the funicular, Barry wrote. Teixeira, however, dropped the suit by August because he and the association reached a settlement. Barry told the Banner in August that both parties “have resolved their differences,” and so the case was dismissed. She declined to comment further on the matter.