CPDC Reviews Sidewalk Plans

Town engineers met with the Community Planning and Development Commission on Monday, March 13 to review the priority list for state Complete Streets funding. The Complete Streets Funding Program, authorized by the 2014 Transportation Bond Bill, provides funding to Massachusetts municipalities that adopt policies and practices that promote the implementation of complete streets. Complete streets are defined as streets that provide safe and accessible options for all travel modes – walking, biking, transit and vehicles – for people of all ages and abilities. Reading’s Complete Streets Policy was adopted in 2014, and has been approved by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The next step has been the development of a Prioritization Plan for projects across a five-year time horizon.

Town staff compiled available resources and studies, such as: the Town’s sidewalk update schedule, recommendations from the 2005 Regional Bicycle Transportation Plan and the 2014 Bicycle Network and Pedestrian Priority Plan, and have ranked the projects based on location, existing conditions, feasibility, and whether or not they accommodate additional travel modes. These rankings were reviewed by the CPDC at the meeting. Questions were asked by commission members about the intersection of High Street and Vine Street as well as sections of South Street.

Virginia Blodgett, speaking for Walkable Reading, asked that the challenging intersections at Main and Ash Streets and at Washington and High Streets be added to the list, even if grant money from the state – about $400,000 – will be insufficient to the safety problems in those intersections. Particular concern was expressed that the new 40B development on Prescott Street will be sold to potential tenants on the basis of being able to walk to shopping. Anyone walking from the new development to the grocery stores in town will need to use these problem intersections. Concern was also expressed about the intersection at General Way and Newcrossing Road. The final list needs to be submitted to the state by April 1.

In other business, CPDC approved a sign for the Davis, Clark & Latham Insurance Agency at 643 Main Street and reviewed Stormwater Bylaw and Site Plan Review guidelines. CPDC will meet again on March 27.

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