News Brief: Temporary closure of Route 183 Housatonic bridge; Mass. Senate passes legislation to curb campus sexual violence; Mass. Ranked fourth most bicycle-friendly state

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By Monday, Nov 6 News

MassDOT schedules temporary closure of Route 183 bridge in Housatonic

Great Barrington — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Highway Division District 1 has announced that the Route 183 Park Street bridge over the Housatonic River will be temporarily closed Thursday, Nov. 9, at 6 a.m. and will reopen Friday, Nov. 10, by 10 p.m.

The closure of the bridge is to facilitate the removal of the temporary bridge and implement a new traffic pattern onto the newly constructed Phase I bridge. A traffic management plan has been implemented that includes variable message boards to inform the public.

The signed detour utilizes Route 7, Route 102 and Route 183 in Great Barrington and Stockbridge. MassDOT advises motorists to seek alternate routes between the Great Barrington/Housatonic district and Stockbridge on Route 183 during these times. The schedule for this work is weather- and emergency-dependent and subject to change without notice.

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Mass. Senate passes legislation to curb sexual violence on college campuses

Boston — Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, announced that the Massachusetts Senate took action Thursday to prevent sexual violence on college campuses by passing comprehensive legislation to establish state-level policies for all higher education institutions in the Commonwealth. The legislation was engrossed with a unanimous vote of 39–0.

S.2191, An Act relative to sexual violence on higher education campuses, was filed by Sen. Michael O. Moore, D-Millbury, who serves as Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. It reflects a collaborative approach by college officials, advocacy groups, students and policymakers to address the issue of on-campus sexual assaults. With the U.S. Department of Education’s recent revocation of the Obama administration’s 2011 guidance on college sexual assault, the legislation ensures that fair procedures and appropriate services are in place at higher education institutions across Massachusetts for both the reporting parties and the accused.

The bill requires all students and staff to receive mandatory annual sexual violence prevention and awareness programming as well as to be notified via email and on school websites of campus policies including information on resources available to sexual assault victims both on- and off-campus and the rights of the accused and the alleged victims. To help decrease the barriers that discourage students from reporting sexual violence, the bill also requires schools to designate a confidential resource advisor. When requested by the reporting party, the confidential resource advisor shall provide information on reporting options along with the consequences of each of the options, available counseling and medical services, and coordinate with the schools to arrange academic accommodations and interim measures.

Because the lack of training of campus staff involved in sexual assault investigations can lead to negative results and experiences for the accused and victims, this legislation requires that the staff responsible for participating in disciplinary proceedings will receive appropriate training to make sure they are knowledgeable about how to best approach these incidents.

Moreover, in an effort to promote increased coordination with outside resources and services, the bill requires schools to establish a memorandum of understanding with sexual assault crisis centers, as well as to develop policies and procedures with local law enforcement that comply with all applicable confidentiality and privacy laws. The bill would also establish a campus safety advisor at the Department of Higher Education to advance statewide campus safety initiatives.

The bill will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Mass. ranked 4th most bicycle-friendly state

Boston — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has announced that Massachusetts has been ranked the fourth most bicycle-friendly state in the nation according to the League of American Bicyclists bi-annual state report card. In addition to retaining its top-five status nationwide from 2015, the Commonwealth was also ranked No. 1 overall in the eastern region of the United States. Massachusetts was especially commended for its high score in the Infrastructure & Funding category of the report card evaluation, reflecting in part the continuing success of MassDOT’s Safe Routes to School program, and the Evaluation & Planning category, best demonstrated by the further development of the statewide Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan.

The Bicycle Friendly State Report Card is intended to provide highlighted information about each state to provide a useful comparison among states and serve as a reference for state efforts related to bicycling. The ranking for each state is based upon a weighted score that is a composite of the state’s score in each of five categories: Infrastructure & Funding, Evaluation & Planning, Policies & Programs, Legislation & Enforcement, and Education & Encouragement.

It is hoped that Massachusetts will further improve its ranking and move forward upon the completion of its statewide Bicycle Transportation Plan update currently in progress.


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