Community Development Director Donna Cesan points out some of the highlights of the Park Street streetscape plan for members of the Maple Grove Civic Club on Sunday.
ADAMS, Mass. — Residents continue to question the streetscape plan for Park Street, with particular focus on the so-called bumpouts designed to improve pedestrian safety.
Speaking to some 50 members of the Maple Grove Civic Club on Sunday at the PNA, Town Administrator Jonathan Butler and Community Development Director Donna Cesan stressed that the designs were developed after speaking with businesses and residents of the busy thoroughfare and public safety officials.
"We wanted to put together a design that was as practical as possible," said Butler, that would address safety and maintenance. "We have to look at economic development ... how is it going to impact our businesses, our storefronts, how does it impact the opportunity for pedestrians to spend more time and have more gathering space on Park Street."
The town received $100,000 through a Community Development Block Grant two years ago to finance the engineering and design. Two public forums have already been held with a third planned for the end of the month. The town anticipates applying for another block grant in December to move forward with the project next year.
"We're trying to create a downtown environment where it attracts new investment, it attracts people to stay and linger," said Cesan.
Butler said the most common concern raised was speeding on Park Street, which sees some 15,000 vehicles a day. Along with enforcement, there were ways to reduce traffic and increase safety, he said, including narrowing the roadway, installing speed bumps (or elevated crosswalks) and building bumpouts.
Of those three, only the bumpouts remain.
As someone who spends time on Park Street, Cesan spoke of the difficulty in crossing the main drag. "Sometimes I wish I had a red flag to say I'm coming across," she said. The three planned bumpouts would be installed on each side of the three existing crosswalks (the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail crossing is not included) to create "an island of safety for pedestrians."
The crossings at Armory Court, 65 Park St. and near the Adams Armory will have sidewalk extensions on both sides to raise pedestrians and place them in front of parked vehicles for greater visibility. The extensions will also reduce the length of the crossing.
What's in the plans:
Bumpouts at three existing crosswalks
Hanging baskets from the streetlights
15 new angled parking spots in front of Town Hall (adding three more spaces overall)
Removal of some trees along the roadway
Several club members raised concerns over the ability of wide loads to maneuver through the downtown and plows to maintain the street, pointing to the difficulty the Department of Public Works was having last week with a simulation.
The roadway, at 12 feet, will also be wider than the Massachusetts Turnpike and many other downtowns, providing more than enough room for truck traffic, Butler and Cesan said. Cesan added that studies into making Park Street one-way were rejected because the alternative Depot Street route could not handle the traffic.
Anthony McBride asked if the Traffic Commission had voted to recommend the project. Butler said it had not, but some members of the commission have been involved in the development of the plan.
Jeffrey Lefebvre said he supported the streetscape plan but not the bumpouts. Lefebvre has been highly critical of the bumpouts installed on Summer Street and believes they would be deleterious on Park Street. When he asked club members in support of the project to raise their hands, only eight did.
Butler said compromises had already been made in the plans to accommodate a wide range of voices and concerns.
"The primary public safety element that was kept in this proposal is the curb extensions at the crosswalk," he said. Considering public safety was the "backbone of this proposal," eliminating the bumpouts would mean "a year from now we would have spent $800,000 and not addressed the No. 1 problem."
The Selectmen will vote on whether to pursue the grant application at its meeting on Nov. 30; the deadline is Dec. 16.
The presentation was taped for broadcast later on Northern Berkshire Community Television.
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As someone who travels park street regularly; i know that drivers frequently stop for pedestrians that are in the cross walk.
People do not stop for jay walkers who make up the majority of the crossers. It holds up traffic because drivers don't know if they should stop or go. If the cops start ticketing the cotton-tops illegally crossing to get to the red carpet it will make park street a safer place to travel.
Jeff Levabre is highly critical of bumpouts? Really? Aren't there more important things in the world to worry about? What exactly is the objection, other than the fact that it's something to object to?
Interesting comment by Ms. Cesan regarding use of "red flags" while crossinfg the Park Street. Some communities use such an approach (Salt Lake City for example). A container of flags, (actually orange) is placed on each side of the crosswalk, the person crossing carries the flag and deposits it in the container on the other side. Worth a try?
All sounds good on paper, but what about snow removal?? The town workers who plow will now need to plow around these "bump outs", will that cause a snow pile? all too often in the winter the crosswalks and sidewalks are not cleared.
I have seen these "bump outs" on other projects. If you can't drive around... no actually along them, you shouldn't have a license. and most often, the plows go down the middle of the road and clean up the parking areas separately anyway.