The Super Secret Road To Block Island – An Interesting Email To Share
After testing positive for Covid-19 for a 2nd time just this past Monday morning (previous time was December of 2020) and per my work’s protocol, I am home for 5 days. Monday was a rough day, Tuesday was better, yesterday I was upright and mobile for a good part of the day, and now today I am a lot more awake and alert. I was just catching up on some emails and comments from my story the other day on the Secret Road to Block Island and found one in my feedback section to be very, very interesting. No forwarding email, just a sign off name – DGranderson.
I did a google search of DGranderson and Block Island and didn’t really come up with anything. I tried a few more combinations and separated letters, thinking that “Anderson” might be the last name of the user. Still nothing. I sent a quick thank you to him/her and hope that this DGranderson will return my message I sent to him/her with more news. While I await his/her response, here is the email and some photos pertaining to information about the secret road to Block Island and its origins. Pretty cool stuff here…
“To whom it may concern, I am glad you and your wife had a good time at the Oar. It is somewhat ironic that you mentioned “The Oar.” That is where we had our celebratory dinner after the tunnel was finished. After we sent the first rider through the tunnel, after nearly 3 years of clandestine drilling and rigging and tunneling and very hard work on all of us, we all took the 1pm ferry out of Galilee to Block Island. The whole crew, all of us sworn to secrecy, took that ferry ride with our hearts pounding out of our chests, our fingers crossed, and our heads focused on the starboard side – the island side if you will. That is where the tunnel ran right up to where Mr. Brewer mentioned he overheard you and Rachel speaking about. The exit point on Block Island at the North Lighthouse. And when we departed that ferry and found our ways over to the North End and saw Mr. Brewer and his electric motorcycle parked at Settlers Rock, we all yelled and screamed like we hadn’t seen Brewer in decades. He made it through, no problems, about a 20 minute ride, and no traffic, joked Brewer. I can remember it like it was yesterday, even though it was nearly 30 years ago.
You see, I had a very creative engineering student at the University I taught at in the 1970s who used to chat about underground transportation being the wave of the future. To solve the energy crisis and the traffic congestion on our highways and by-ways, he had this idea that if we built a series of roads and passages and tunnels for common routes, we could help alleviate the congestion problem in cities like Boston (where I lived) and Narragansett, RI (where he grew up). He would draw these elaborate drawings with tunnels and boats and people swimming and try to pitch it to his professors, like me. Here is one of them I kept as a souvenir.
Having consulted on the tunnel projects in New York City, London, and Philadelphia in my engineering lifetime, I had a pretty good sense of how a project workflow was created and executed. On the other hand, I also knew about government involvement, environmental concerns, construction costs and equipment, safety protocols, and the all important questions – is this thing going to be safe for travel and who is going to pay for it? My student, whom I will keep anonymous as well, was very persistent and sensing that I had even a 1% interest in his fantasy project, asked me to sit in on a presentation he was giving to some area investors and government agencies. 20 year old kid with a lot of balls and brains I might add. He had about 10 people in the room, all suits, all with degrees and the power to potentially greenlight a project like his. Or at the least know someone who could.
The kid was on point, his presentation was crisp, he flipped pages on an easel like a maestro flipping music sheets at Carnegie Hall. Every visitor had a booklet to go along with the pages on the easel, so they could read facts and figures and costs up close and personal. I sat in the back on a stool and was asked to just stand up at the end with the proposed budget for the audience. When the student was finished, he looked over at me, I stood up, showed the $100 million dollar price tag, and the kid asked “Who is interested in building a tunnel to help save congestion and alleviate this traffic mess we are in every day?” One by one, the visitors who were still seated, lifted up their left arms, extended their thumbs straight up, and then twisted their wrists and gave my student the thumbs down. Then, each visitor stood, placed the printed materials on their chair and began to walk to the exit, some even laughing and making snide comments. I felt bad, it was a really solid presentation. But I also understood the gigantic risks involved and honestly did not blame any of the visitors for saying no thanks.
Just as I was folding up the legs on the easel and preparing to leave, the visitor who was seated in the last chair in the back row stood facing the door, watched as the last visitor in front of him depart, then shut the door and faced my student and I. “Could you design a tunnel to travel from Narragansett, Rhode Island to Block Island?” the man said as he extended a paper bag that he drawn a $ sign on. He stuffed a few ones in the bag for show. I stepped over to the man. Before I could open my mouth, my student said “of course I can, that’s my hometown and I believe that’s a straight shot from Camp Cronin over to the North Lighthouse, if I am correct.” I started shaking my head no to my student, whose smile was ear to ear at this point. “Well, you come up with some actual figures and then we can sit down and negotiate a deal. Until then, here is my card. Nice presentation kid, I really love your spirit.” His card read “Shelton Property Management, Ocean Drive, Newport” with his telephone number hand written on the back. “401-186”
More to follow in a few, I have to take my dogs for walk.
Seriously, a lot to absorb and for what its worth, I think I will do the same with my dogs too. Funny, I was just at Camp Cronin last weekend with Rachel, my sister, her son and our dogs. And her son said something that kinda makes sense now. My sister’s dog was about to bury something near the giant rocks, when her son peeked in and said “wow, this looks like some kind of tunnel under the rocks.” Very interesting and this story gets more interesting as I gather more information. Stay tuned…
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