On Tuesday, October 18th at O’Maley Innovation School 6:15 pm, the City Council will hold a special meeting to review the resubmission of the MassDOT Prioritization Plan of the Safe and Accessible Street Program.
See link to agenda:
From information that has been gathered, the City will be resubmitting to the State a scaled back proposal for improvements to Tally’s corner which will consist of sidewalk improvements and withhold the rotary concept.
As required by the State Policy, the goal of Complete Streets is to design, operate and maintain Gloucester’s streets in a context sensitive manner to promote and ensure safety and accessibility for all users. It does not assert this program is inherently appropriate for every road construction project. To the contrary, the State program provides further flexibility to the City via criteria for exemptions from inclusion, which can be evoked by the Mayor. Being primarily pedestrian and bicycle focused State funding, it lends itself more to other priority projects such as school routes, which were preferred by several City Councilors during the Policy approval process.
Therefore, the revised proposal for sidewalks, which will complement the newly installed ADA compliant sidewalks on Commercial St., should through a context sensitive approach, first protect and provide for the primary use of continued heavy commercial vehicular traffic on the Designated Port Area roadways.
The rotary proposal, which called for reducing radii, utilizing “neckdowns”, widening of sidewalks, narrowing streets and installing pedestrian islands are all counter productive for ease of access of large commercial vehicles. These restrictive measures would result in a rerouting of commercial truck traffic exclusively to the Blackburn Rotary, the 128 extension, Rogers St. and Commercial St. If implemented, which class of commercial trucks to be rerouted remains to be determined. Due to the restrictive nature of the rotary proposal, tractor trailers were assured to be rerouted. However, subject to inclusion would be passenger buses, large box trucks, ten-wheel, eight-wheel and double axle trucks. This would impact all industrial sectors, businesses and delivery trucks servicing the City.
We are anticipating a fully transparent presentation by City staff, which should include a revised, detailed work narrative and plans for review by the City Council and the public. As stated by DPW Director Mike Hale at the last presentation to City Council, the sidewalks set the context for what is to be developed between the sidewalks. We are also awaiting an inclusive process with business owners and the public to review plans and weigh in on impacts and implications of any proposed changes.
Patti Page, EG consultant, of Gloucester, is retired from a career in federal fisheries regulatory compliance work and a past member of the City’s Waterways Board. She is a founder and former director of Sail GHS, the sailing program for students across Cape Ann, and is dedicated to a broad range of working waterfront advocacy issues.