New tunnel to facilitate Shoals traffic

Your tax dollars at work

Noah Uturn

Thanks to the recent passage of an obscure bill in the United States Congress, Rye will soon be the scene of a massive construction project which will bring jobs, noise and disruption to our quiet town.

The original bill had something to do with controlling the proliferation of invasive plants and animals in the Florida Everglades. It was a popular bill, almost certain to pass, so our United States Representative, Carol Shea-Porter, tacked on an earmark. Thus, as we speak, plans are being drawn for a four-lane tunnel to the Isles of Shoals.

Tunnel boring machine. (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Current thinking is for the tunnel to begin on the downward slope of Washington Road, a couple of hundred yards west of Ocean Boulevard, and for it to go beneath Ocean Boulevard and then in a straight line from there to Star Island.
The new tunnel is projected to be completed by late 2012 and is estimated to cost upwards of seven billion dollars. It will be modeled after the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, with one platform rising out of the sea at the four mile mark. Drivers will be able to make the nine mile trip from Rye to Star Island in just over ten minutes. Upon arriving on Star Island, drivers will have the option of entering a tight rotary and immediately returning to the mainland, or parking in a contemplated new town parking lot and doing a little sight seeing. For those choosing the latter, a number of new tourist attractions are in the planning phase, including a golf driving range, a super sized Ferris wheel, and a small but authentic whaling museum where visitors will have the opportunity  to throw harpoons at the likenesses of various types of whales.

The facility at the four mile marker will feature restrooms, a snack area serving burgers and soft drinks, and a tie up area for fishing boats, pleasure craft, and lobster boats. At the request of some of the local lobstermen, a license to sell beer is under consideration.

Prototype of tunnel permit. (staff image)
According to the Rye Public Works Department, construction of the new tunnel will result in the closing of Washington Road for approximately three years beginning with the commencement of preliminary work. One of the most astounding things about the new project is the fact that it was pushed through Congress with a minimal amount of debate and with little public awareness. It is certainly a great credit to our Congressional delegation and our local media that a bill with such wide ranging ramifications for the town and its surroundings was able to be literally snuck through Congress. When asked to comment on the upcoming project, long time earmark foe and Rye Reflections contributor Bill Veazey declared: "Boston had its big dig, costing taxpayers multiple billions. Itís time that Rye had a chance to improve on that."

April Fool's Day, 2008