Committee Ponders ‘Complete Streets’… Aug. 19, 2016

| August 18, 2016

By Lynda King

The Public Ways Safety Committee, an advisory committee whose purpose is to work with town officials on ways to make Bolton’s roads safer, met on Aug. 10 to consider the value of having a “Complete Streets” policy, to develop a “wish list” for the proposed Global Partners gas station project, and to take a checkpoint on safety concerns around town and safety solutions in progress.

About Complete Streets

Committee members discussed a recent visit by two members to tour the Complete Streets pilot projects in Maynard that were started late last month, which included improvements along Summer, Nason, and Main streets. Improvements included traffic-calming “bump-outs,” bicycle paths, and inviting “parkettes”—places for pedestrians to sit—here and there in former parking spaces.

Members expressed interest in pursuing a Complete Streets policy for Bolton.

“Complete Streets” is an initiative of Smart Growth America, a nationwide coalition that advocates community designs in urban, suburban and rural communities that have housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools. According to the organization, Complete Streets policies “support local economies and help protect the environment.”

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has already adopted such a policy, and thanks to the 2014 Transportation Bond Bill, has funding available to assist municipalities in adopting policies and practices that would help make roadways more accommodating not only to motorists, but also to pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities.

Committee Chair Mary Ciummo said that the regional planning agency Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) could offer assistance in establishing such a policy, which would set design standards for town planners and engineers to incorporate into any plans along the entire right of way in Bolton to help make roadways safer and more accommodating for all users. Ciummo said Complete Streets is not a law, and is not directed by the state. But municipalities that adopt a Complete Streets policy must also develop performance standards to ensure they are meeting the policy’s goals.

Global Partners ‘Wish List’

Also on the agenda was developing a list of action items the committee would like to see given to Global Partners as the company pursues its announced plans to develop a gas station on land across from the Interstate 495 northbound exit. Ciummo said that the list would be given to Town Planner Erica Uriarte to present to the Planning Board.

Changes the committee would like to see Global Partners responsible for include sidewalks on Main Street from Route 85 to Sugar Road; a pedestrian-activated crosswalk at Sugar Road and Main Street; wider shoulders on the road for bicyclists; walkways within the Global Partners development; a commitment to maintain ongoing litter control along the roadway; and a reevaluation of the intersection at Route 85 and Main Street. (Members pondered whether a rotary would be appropriate there.)

In Other Business …

Signs ordered

The committee, which works with police on what traffic signs around town are deteriorating and need replacing, had submitted requests for new signs to the Department of Public Works. Ciummo reported that hardware and posts have been ordered. She noted that there were six “yield” signs that were changed to “stop” signs, after being approved by the Board of Selectmen.

Dangers on West Berlin Road

Ciummo recapped a meeting with two residents on W. Berlin Road who were concerned that speeding traffic on the road was presenting a danger. The committee suggested some steps residents could take, such as putting up signs like “Drive as if your kids lived here.” Ciummo reported that fog lines would be going in on that road later this year, and those could have a “traffic-calming” effect. Meanwhile, in response to questions from residents on that road about having a speed study done; the committee suggested that residents get together and advocate with the town for a speed study.

Signs of solar

The committee discussed having the crosswalk at Mechanic and Main streets enhanced with a blinking “pedestrian” sign. Ciummo said she had spoken with people at the Department of Public Works about the possibility of having solar-powered signs, and said the DPW is currently evaluating whether there is sufficient sunlight on both sides of the road to power them. Funding for the two lights needed, she said, would be about $3,700 apiece. She suggested that the town might be eligible for such funding when it becomes an official “Green Community,” although she wasn’t sure where that initiative stands.

Clean sweep

Ciummo reported that the DPW has started the street-sweeping they’d planned and that all roads in town should be completed by fall.

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