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North Adams has the highest intersection by severity with 16 injury crashes within five years.

BRPC Developing Action Plan for Safer Roads, Crosswalks

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A countywide effort is developing a systematic approach to roadway safety for motorists and pedestrians. 
 
Three public sessions were planned with the third is set for 10 a.m. Friday at the Great Barrington firehouse on State Road. There is also a Zoom option.  The first two were held Thursday: at North Adams at noon and in Dalton at the public library at 5:30.
 
The sessions are being hosted by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission for the Safe Travel and Equity Plan for our Streets (STEPS) initiative.
 
The nation, overall, has seen an uptick in the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities over the last decade, after tracking comparable to the European Union. Nicholas Russo, senior transportation planner at BRPC, said that's true of Berkshire County as well as fatalities have increased over the past five years. 
 
Pedestrian and bicycle accidents only make up about 2 percent of all incidents but 20 percent of the serious and fatal crashes.
 
North Adams has the No. 1 "intersection by severity" with 16 injury crashes and two serious injury crashes within a five-year span. No surprise, it's where Hodges Cross Road meets Curran Highway. The intersection became much busier over the past decade with the opening of the Walmart Supercenter and a Cumberland Farms. 
 
The initiative has also developed a dashboard highlighting problem traffic areas that will be available for the public to comment on. 
 
"People make mistakes. You need to have more safeguards in place for human error," Russo said. "Responsibility is shared between not just different users on the road, but between planners like me and engineers who design the roads, cities to maintain the roads, policymakers in state and federal government who work to make our biggest state we all have a role to play in this."
 
BRPC is working with engineering and design consultants Beta Group Inc., with offices in Chicopee, on developing an action plan for delivery in early 2025. 
 
The project is being funded by a Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) action plan grant of $198,593 from the Federal Highway Administration, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. This is a matching grant with the state Department of Transportation kicking in 20 percent for a total of $248,241.
 
Only a few people attended the North Adams' session, all via Zoom. But Russo said there have been about 80 responses so far to a survey and that BRPC has been in contact with stakeholders. 
 
 
The public sessions will be followed up with more in-depth interviews with agencies and officials. 
 
"That's where we'll start kind of prioritizing and focusing on parts of the county that need the most attention, either for past crashes and fatalities where we see high risk of future instances happening," said Russo. "And we will propose higher measures that would help correct those issues that we see in those high-risk locations."
 
The plan involves tracking and implementing projects to address issues such as speeding, tailgating, and passing school buses, with a focus on equity and community engagement. Prioritizing needs and solutions could open the doors to between $2.5 million and $5 million in grant funding for implementation. 
 
Remedies could range from more visible signage to traffic-calming measures to road reconstruction and roundabouts.
 
"But I think it's also important to note that you don't have to do something very expensive to improve safety," said Anna Sangree, transportation planner with Beta. "A raised crosswalk is extremely effective at making crossings safer so these things, for each location, you can think about what makes sense."

Tags: road safety,   

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MCLA's Gallery 51: 'Mothering in Migration'

NORTH ADAMS, Mass.— MCLA's MOSAIC announces the upcoming exhibition "Mothering in Migration" and opening reception at Gallery 51.
 
"Mothering in Migration" will be on view from July 26 to August 25 at Gallery 51 with an opening reception on July 26 from 5 to 8 p.m. featuring light snacks and refreshments. A reception will also be held during North Adams' First Friday event on August 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. featuring catering, refreshments, and live music from Yo Soy Arte.
 
"Mothering in Migration" is part of an ongoing collaboration between artist Luiza Folegatti and Latinas413 that aims to strengthen local support for immigrant mothers while using image-making as a tool for community building. Through photography sessions, interviews, and workshops, the families and the artist celebrated their connection to the natural landscape of the Berkshires, the networks of mutual support between friends and colleagues, and the intimacy of the mother-daughter relationship.
 
The show is curated by Carolina Porras-Monroy.
 
According to a press release: 
 
Luiza Folegatti is a Brazilian artist based in North Adams who integrates artistic practice, teaching, and social advocacy work around the rights of women immigrants. Her work focuses on gender and migration through photography, video,  performance, and visual anthropology methods. Folegatti strongly believes in the positive impact generated by projects that combine photography, education, and community building. She has taught photography workshops for several years at nonprofits working with immigrants and is currently a visiting faculty member in photography at Bennington College, part-time residency coordinator at MASS MoCA, and Artists At Work grantee. 
 
To learn more about Latinas413 visit https://www.latinas413.org/.
 
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