A group of volunteers along with municipal employees have been beavering away for over a year to study and learn what projects might be favorably reviewed and possibly receive funding from the state’s Complete Street Program.
The initiative began as Smart Growth USA, a non-profit that assists communities in finding better ways for people to move from Point A to Point B. Public input is an essential element to identifying projects that would improve pedestrian and non-motorized modes of transportation. With the input the committee received over the preceding months from public meetings, a list of some 20 projects were identified. That list has been whittled down to just three that will be advanced for funding review by the state.
Mattapoisett’s committee, known as the Bike/Pedestrian Committee, is chaired by Bonne DeSousa and includes: Barry Denham, Mattapoisett Highway surveyor; George Payne of the Highway Department; Mike Lorenco, town administrator; Police Chief Mary Lyons; Planning Board Administrator Mary Crain; and volunteers Robert Teixeira, Steve Smith, and Bob Bergman.
The town engaged the services of Bill Mertz of World Tech Engineering to assist in the process of developing a project list with cost estimates, necessary for the grant application. Mertz has an extensive background in public sector, infrastructure development focusing primarily on cost estimating and document preparation.
On June 11, the group met remotely to put the finishing touches on the three identified projects. Those projects are: safety improvements at the intersection of the bike path and Brandt Island Road; solar-powered speed annunciators that alert motorists to their rate of speed when traveling on North Street; and sidewalks on the west intersection of Pearl Street and Route 6.
The Brandt Island Road intersection improvements were described as a fencing design located at the point where the bike path intersects with the roadway. The white fencing design would give motorists a visual cue that will provide time to respond to movement near the intersection, versus a screen of green vegetation obscuring bicyclists. For the bicyclists, it would also act as a visual cue that they are approaching the intersection where yielding to oncoming motorists might be necessary.
Included with the fencing was a design option that would incorporate a splitter island on the bike path that would act as directional flow control for bicyclists nearing the intersection. Also at this location the plan will include the installation of solar-powered speed signs intended to alert motorists to their rate of speed leading up to the intersection.
North Street residents’ concerns were also heard with the major issues being high rates of speed on a designated scenic roadway that lacks both a bike lane and sidewalks. The committee agreed that the installation of solar-powered speed signs along stretches of North Street will aid in traffic calming to slow down motorists. Chief Lyons commented via email that the four radar-activated, solar-powered speed signs could be installed anywhere north of the Route 195 overpass in her estimation. DeSousa said that, before locations should be approved, the abutters should be engaged for their buy-in.
The third project was for the construction of sidewalks on Pearl Street across Route 6 from the senior housing development. Sidewalks would continue on Pearl Street to the intersection of Hammond Street, Denham said.
DeSousa said in a follow-up that all grant deadlines had been pushed forward due to COVID-19 giving most a new deadline date of July 1.
Complete Streets grants can be as much as $400,000 per committee, DeSousa said, but added that Mattapoisett’s request would fall short of that figure.
Mattapoisett Bike/Pedestrian Committee
By Marilou Newell