On Thursday, September 7, the Marion Pathways Committee gave the public a chance to view the three engineering concepts for a future bike path crossing to take people from the west side of the planned bike path to the east side, traversing Spring Street and Route 105.
On the wall of the Marion Music Hall hung three very different conceptual renderings, each of them garnering a number of different comments pertaining to each concept’s safety for drivers, pedestrians, and how each particular concept would affect traffic flow along Route 105.
Concept 1 is for two crosswalks, beginning with one crosswalk across Spring Street leading to the front of Cilantro where the bike path would turn left and continue north until it reaches the Spring Street/Route 105 intersection where another crosswalk would take bike path users across Route 105 and link it up to the bike path as it continues east. This crosswalk would be positioned south of the Spring Street intersection with Route 105.
Two Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs), yellow crossing signs with flashing lights, would be installed on both sides of both crossings to warn traffic. Those wishing to cross the crosswalk could press the button, illuminating the flashers for 20 seconds.
A triangular-like island would be constructed where Spring Street intersects Route 6, keeping the soft right turn onto Spring Street the same while making the left and right turn from Spring Street onto Route 105 more of a conventional, perpendicular intersection.
Concept 2 provides one single crosswalk across Route 105, north of where Spring Street intersects with Route 105. The bike path coming from the west would turn left in front of Brewfish, cross Route 105, and the bike path would continue on.
The two RRFBs would mark each side of the crossing like in Concept 1, but only a total of two would be needed.
The intersection of Spring Street and Route 105 would be reconfigured to provide a perfectly perpendicular intersection, thus eliminating that softer right turn onto Spring Street and making it a more conventional right turn, causing drivers to have to slow their vehicles before turning.
Concept 3, with the most significant changes to the Route 105/Spring Street intersection, involves reconfiguring the entire roadway between the two sides of the bike path, creating a small roundabout, or rotary, and three crosswalks would be made: one across Spring Street and then a second straight ahead across Route 105, and a third on Route 105 on the other side of the roundabout. A total of six (two per crossing) RRFBs would be installed, and the bike path would be extended along the front of Brewfish, and then extended from both the north and south Route 105 crossings outside the roundabout. (Lost yet? For a visual understanding of the three concepts, visit www.wanderer.com and click on the link to this article).
Some neighbors expressed concern that Concepts 2 and 3 would significantly reduce traffic flow on Route 105 leading to a backup of vehicles from the Interstate 195 overpass to the Route 105/Route 6 traffic lights. Furthermore, one couple that lives on Front Street (Route 105) said eliminating the soft turn onto Spring Street as Concept 2 does would further slow down traffic and lead to congestion.
Engineers assured residents that traffic studies during peak hours had been undertaken, leading them to conclude that traffic flow would not be significantly affected, except that a roundabout would certainly get traffic down to a slower speed – a safety enhancement for those crossing on the bike path.
Another concern about Concept 3 was that due to the widening of the roadway to make way for a roundabout, some land taking from abutting properties would be required, taking longer due to the legal aspects of the process. It is also the most expensive option.
Marion Pathways Committee Chairman John Rockwell thanked those in attendance for their comments, saying they would be helpful as the process unfolds with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. MassDOT would study the submitted options for the crosswalk and fully vet the designs.
“My main concern is getting people across Spring Street and Route 105 without getting killed,” said Rockwell. He offered anyone with questions or comments to contact him at email@example.com or 508-728-5585.
The bike path planning process is well into its 25% completion stage after 22 years of planning and land acquisition. The engineering was funded by a grant from the Community Preservation Fund.
The bike path will follow the old New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Line from Mattapoisett to where Brew Fish is located. Across Route 105, the bike path continues along the old route of the defunct New Bedford & Onset Street Railway Company electric trolley all the way to Washburn Park. It will pass through the park, and reconnect with the railroad route north to Point Road. You can find the map online at www.southcoastbikeway.com/marion.html.
Construction of the bike path will be funded by MassDOT in federal fiscal year 2020 (October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020).
By Jean Perry