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MassDOT presents planned improvements around Brayton School at a public hearing on Tuesday night.

Brayton School 'Safe Routes' Project Set to Begin Next Year

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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State officials review the deficiencies at the YMCA entrance. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Improvements for pedestrian and motor vehicle access to Brayton School is on track to begin next year. 
 
A virtual public hearing on the Safe Routes to School project was held on Tuesday night. No one outside of state officials and press attended. 
 
"We are currently in the design stage, which means that the plans are still being developed and we welcome your feedback," said Jon Freeman, project manager for MassDOT. "We estimate the total project will cost $738,715.90, which will come from federal aid funding."
 
The Federal Highway Administration will cover 80 percent of the total construction costs and MassDOT will pick up the balance. It will have to be scheduled through Transportation Improvement Program in the appropriate federal fiscal year in order for MassDOT to solicit bids for construction. 
 
The costs will not cover rights of way, which will be the responsibility of the city, said Nikki Peters, with MassDOT's Right of Way Bureau. "The current design plans, indicate there are zero fee to permanent easements, and five temporary easements required."
 
Most of the easements are on public property but two are on private property: the Brayton apartment complex and a residential property.
 
The project is currently at 25 percent design. Kevin Dandrade of TEC Inc. (The Engineering Corp.) said once comments are reviewed, the project will move to 75 to 100 percent design. 
 
"We have a number of steps in front of us. But tonight we wanted to pause to obtain that public input from you, so that we can go forward knowledgeably to adjust design if we need to," he said. 
 
Dandrade said his firm has been involved in the early design and survey work at the school. City and school officials had pondering how to both make the western entrance to the YMCA/school complex safer and to encourage walking and biking to school. 
 
The playground area below Brayton Hill was recently revamped through a 
Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant and the new entranceways to the school takes into account this prior work. 
 
The Safe Routes to School program, he said, "is something that MassDOT has played a key role in, I would say a front runner's role in providing the example of how to improve the multimodal environment for those that walk, bike or take transit or other means of transportation, outside of the normal vehicle."
 
The goal is to improve the "sidewalk network" around the school to connect it "to areas where children and parents are walking already," Dandrade said. 
 
Deficiencies identified include the western driveway that also serves as an entrance to the school. The steep driveway has no sidewalks and limited visibility. 
 
There are no bicycle markings along the stretch of road or curb ramps, and the traffic signal on Route 2 (State Road) is not up to federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards. 
 
"Our goals, we want to improve the crosswalk safety. We want to improve the visibility of those crossings for those vulnerable users that may be within the roadway. We want to add the new sidewalk connections to connect the people and the places where we know they're traveling today," Dandrade said. We want to improve the bicycle facilities, and the identification of those different areas within the street. ... And lastly, and just as importantly, that we want to see the community continue to encourage children to walk and or bike to school, as part of a number of those ease as part of the Safe Routes to School program."
 
Improvements include a 5-foot wide sidewalk on each side of the upper portion of Brayton Hill Terrace with a narrow grass buffer and repaving of the roadway and a new sidewalk along the repositioned and regraded driveway. The traffic light will get a pedestrian warning systems. An older bus shelter no longer used will be removed and crosswalks will be slightly shifted for visibility and reaction time for motor vehicles.
 
"We're also seeking to create a new sidewalk connection between Brayton street and Route Two, that's not there today but would provide a more direct sidewalk connection to the signal where they could cross the street," Dandrade said.
 
Construction will be done in segments and police details may be necessary at times, particularly at the Route 2 intersection. 
 
"And as we get closer to the construction period, we will be coordinating with school staff to determine the appropriate time to construct those improvements in regards to the driveway," he said.
 
The project will likely need environmental permitting because of the proximity of the Hoosic River and Notch Brook, Dandrade said. "We anticipate limited impacts in that perspective."
 
Written comments can be still be sent to Carrie E. Lavallee, P.E., acting chief engineer, at MassDOTProjectManagement@dot.state.ma.us or mail to Suite 6340, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116, Attention: Project Management, Project File No. 610546.
 
A handout with space for comments and Lavallee's address can be downloaded here.

Tags: Brayton School,   MassDOT,   safe routes to school,   

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MCLA Volleyball Tops Mass Maritime Academy

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- MCLA's Chloie Garber collected 14 kills and 16 digs to lead the Trailblazer volleyball team past visiting Mass. Maritime 3-0 in MASCAC action Saturday afternoon.
 
The Trailblazers picked up their first conference win (1-1) as they improved to 5-3 overall. MMA dips to 1-10 overall and 0-2 in the league.
 
The Trailblazers fell to Trinity (CT) in the nightcap 3-0.
 
Garber had a productive day with her 14 kills on 39 attacks aganst MMA. She was the only Trailblazers in double figures. Natasha Stewart added 35 assists to fuel the offense. Kelly Moczulski and Reagan Scattergood each ended with eight kills.
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