Cut Through The Political Red Tape: Make Nantucket Sound Exempt From Speed Regulations

Christine Colletti •

This letter was originally sent to Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, and Congressman Bill Keating.

To the editor: Can you imagine if the Mass. Pike, Rt 128, The Southeast Expressway, or the Mid-Cape Highway (Rt 6) was unusable 6 months of the year? Well, the Atlantic Ocean, Nantucket Sound is our 30-mile highway and it is crucial that we have year-round access. Our economy, our livelihoods, our physical and mental health and safety depend on this lifeline to the islands.

As a full-time year-round Nantucket resident for more than 45 years and a consumer of the services offered in Massachusetts, I thank you for always being an advocate for the middle class and sensitive to the economic pressures on working families and the underserved.

I hope you’ll read on and add this to our plea as I add my voice and beg of you to cut through the political red tape and have NOAA reconsider and make Nantucket Sound exempt from this proposed ruling. Taking a more common-sense approach based on facts and stats provided by the experienced men and women of the maritime community who value the sea and the ocean creatures. They will always respect a red or yellow “slow zone” but we have to live in a practical world that requires dependence on a mode of transportation that keeps Nantucket in the modern era and doesn’t set us back to the ’60s, ’70s, and early '80s when the island population was 6-7 times less than it is now.

As much as we hear that other Massachusetts towns think that all Nantucketers are rich, wealthy, and have it all, there are many, many who are in dire straits. We have a busy food pantry, rental and fuel assistance, unhoused citizens, and multiple thrift shops that service all of us for affordable clothing, and home goods. We can’t afford a plane ride up to Boston or Hyannis for essential services. We need our boat lines.

Our daily fast ferry carries 400 people a trip and is handicap accessible. Eliminating this service from November to May is a hardship for us. These months are considered the “off-season” but for us year-round islanders it is a very busy travel time. This is when we are most likely to make our vital medical and dental care appointments at hospitals and offices that provide care not available on-island. Medically necessary skin cancer checks, infusions, eye doctor visits, and hearing tests. These appointments are made months in advance and are like “gold” for doctor’s appts. Spur of the moment, “quicky” off-island excursions to necessary shopping trips for goods not available on-island, obligations for business trips, starting visits to see our kids and grandchildren, and begin our winter getaways are all needed for our mental health. This type of one-hour ferry ride that can be done as a same-day round trip does not involve the extreme financial challenges and burdens of needing an overnight hotel stay, car rental, and food costs for a long day of travel. Physically, emotionally and financially any type of travel to and from the island is straining on all walks of life but can be especially taxing for families with young children, the elderly or senior population, the disabled who may already be compromised for money and support systems and our dedicated student-athletes, coaches , and fans who use this ferry to support their healthy lifestyles.

As for the slow boats or “car ferries” The boat called the Eagle carries 768 people (travelers and crew) each trip plus 52 cars. It’s the workhorse for the island and reservations are prized when you get the dates and times that you need to make your appointments and other travel connections. It’s a slow ride, now 2.5 hours each trip running 2-3 times a day ferrying visitors and islanders alike daily.

Our aging fleet of freight boats the Gay Head, the Sankaty, the Katama…slow and steady carrying our lifeline supplies by truck…food, freight, utility services, gas, propane, essential town infrastructure equipment, building materials, even funeral home services such as a hearse or ambulance. Nantucket and Hyannis are the end of the line for our goods and services.

Island living is not for everyone but as you’ve been advised, the very conservative number of residents “on the books” is 15K but with the basis of our economy being tourism this swells daily in the various seasons, up to 80K on a busy day in August. The need for dependable, safe, accessible and time-sensitive service for the year-rounders, commuters and tourists alike is essential for us.


Christine Colletti

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