October First Friday – Transportation: Getting Around
The challenge of getting around Concord and the region is growing due to an ever-increasing volume of cars on roadways. In response, the LWVCC sponsored a forum on October 4th as part of the League’s Town Government Committee First Friday series. The forum highlighted local, state, and regional transportation concerns.
LWVCC President Julie Rohwein opened the discussion and Moderator Alice Kaufman framed the topic. LWVCC member Janet Rothrock introduced the speakers: State Representative Tami Gouveia, Lizzi Weyant, Director of Government Affairs for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Scott Zadakis, Executive Director of CrossTown Connect Transportation Management Association, Richard Reine, Director, Concord Public Works, and Lieutenant Kevin Monahan, Concord Police Department.
State Representative Gouveia focused on commuter issues and a transportation bill. Ms. Weyant took a quick poll regarding the gas tax and the audience’s tolerance for an increase in the gas tax to relieve local transportation issues. Most of the audience appeared willing to accept a gas tax increase if it eased the traffic. Ms. Weyant explained that traffic issues are all-encompassing and noted the connection between transportation and the local economy.
Mr. Zadakis provided an update on Concord’s grant application through CrossTown Connect for an in-city, shuttle bus route connecting the two commuter train stations in Concord and West Concord with several key business and tourist destinations. This route would focus on daily trips, suburb to suburb commuting, and traveling to and through the Concord area.
The proposed route would start at the MBTA commuter train station in West Concord and end on Virginia Road, with stops at the MCI-Concord prison, Papa Razzi, Welch Foods on Baker Ave, across Route 62 to Old Marlboro Road and the Emerson Hospital. The route crosses Route 2 and continues along Main Street to the Thoreau Depot / MBTA commuter train stop, to Concord Center, the Louisa May Alcott house, the Ripley School, and then onto Virginia Road. Mr. Zadakis said we should hear the results of the grant application in November.
Mr. Reine explained the background and results of Concord’s recent Complete Streets Survey, wikimap, public information and workshop. A “Complete Street” is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes – walking, biking, transit, and vehicles – for people of all ages and abilities. Mr. Reine noted that, while autos account for a larger share of the total number of accidents, personal injury occurs more often when pedestrians or bicyclists are involved.
As a result of the survey, the Concord Public Works Department has created a prioritization plan designed to address various mobility, safety, and accessibility issues. Year One projects would focus on Hubbard Street, Commonwealth Avenue, and Sudbury Road to create sidewalks, crosswalks, and accessible signage. The Year Two project would reconfigure the Main Street / Cottage Street intersection and curb ramps. The Year Three projects would remedy issues on Walden Street, including the construction of crosswalks and a sidewalk from Magnolia Street to the high school.
Lieutenant Monahan announced the publication of a Bike Safety handout that explains bicycling rules and trail etiquette. The audience enjoyed delicious refreshments and asked questions about extending the proposed route for the Concord shuttle, data collection, pedestrian-only areas, road-sharing, infrastructure costs, and regional solutions to traffic. Ms. Kaufman closed the forum, noting that this program was videotaped by the Town’s public access TV station, Minuteman Media Network. The slide presentations are available below. Karlen Reed