Four area towns benefit from Complete Streets grants

  • Part of a $384,000 Complete Streets Funding Program grant that was awarded to Athol will be used to install new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant sidewalks in Fish Park. Department of Public Works Superintendent Richard Kilhart said the park is “a beautiful resource, but some sidewalks you can’t get up or down with a wheelchair, so we’re going to correct that.” Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Part of a $384,000 Complete Streets Funding Program grant that was awarded to Athol will be used to install new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant sidewalks in Fish Park. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 12/22/2020 4:01:55 PM
Modified: 12/22/2020 4:01:53 PM

Athol, Erving, Montague and Northfield are among the 12 Massachusetts communities that are benefiting from $4.6 million recently awarded through the Complete Streets Funding Program, allowing for traffic-calming improvements, increased accessibility, additional signs and more.

According to a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the awards fund infrastructure projects that improve travel for bicyclists, pedestrians, public transit users and people using other forms of transportation. About $50 million has been awarded since the creation of the Complete Streets Funding Program in February 2016.

“This program is a key example of our administration’s commitment to partnering with communities to improve local economic opportunities and neighborhood connectivity through investments in transportation,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in the release.

Athol received $384,000 to implement various traffic-calming efforts in its downtown area, as well as to install new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant sidewalks and crosswalks to improve safety at high-crash locations, the release states.

Athol Department of Public Works Superintendent Richard Kilhart explained some of the traffic-calming efforts will include signs that indicate a driver’s speed. Such signs will be installed on the eastbound side of Route 2A (Main Street), where vehicles enter town, as well as on the westbound side.

“The lion’s share of the $384,000 is for the correction of ADA-compliant sidewalks in Fish Park,” Kilhart continued. “Between Maple, Union and Newton streets, the park is used by a tremendous amount of folks. It’s a beautiful resource, but some sidewalks you can’t get up or down with a wheelchair, so we’re going to correct that.”

Erving received $399,596 to reconstruct and extend sidewalks with ADA-compliant pedestrian crossings along numerous streets, filling a network gap in pedestrian access. Erving Town Administrator Bryan Smith said the projects will focus on the area of Central Street and Park Street, and will involve renovating the adjoining park. The town will also conduct upgrades to Pratt and Gunn streets.

Northfield received $372,620 to implement various pedestrian infrastructure improvements, including the replacement and extension of sidewalks as well as the addition of ADA-compliant crossings, radar speed feedback signs, flashing pedestrian crossing signs and wayfinding signs. The project will also involve the reconfiguration of the intersection at Highland Avenue and Moody Street.

Similarly, Montague received $399,686 to construct and replace sidewalks and crossings at various locations, improve ADA-compliance and provide improved pedestrian accessibility.

“We’re really excited by the announcement and, frankly, the continued commitment by the state to fund the program,” said Montague Town Administrator Steven Ellis. “This is the second major grant we’ve received through the program.”

According to Ellis, the award will fund three projects to fill “critical gaps in Montague’s sidewalk network.” First, pedestrian improvements and elementary school connections will be made on Keith Street, which Ellis said will fill a ¼-mile gap in the sidewalk network along a popular route near the Hillcrest and Sheffield elementary schools. A second project will complete a ½-mile gap connecting Hillcrest and Sheffield schools to Great Falls Middle School and Turners Falls High School, as well as the town public safety complex. Lastly, a roughly ⅓-mile stretch of sidewalk will be installed along Turnpike Road, connecting two existing, disconnected sidewalk networks.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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