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Terry Cowgill
As part of a complete streets design, the bicycle lane on Main Street in Great Barrington was added when the street was reconstructed in 2015.

Great Barrington eyes funding for five ‘complete streets’ projects: They’re not just for cars

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By Tuesday, Sep 11, 2018 News 10

Great Barrington — The town has recently submitted to the state Department of Transportation a list of five potential projects that could be eligible for up to $400,000 in funding from MassDOT’s Complete Streets Funding Program.

Sidewalk repairs are an important part of the Complete Streets program, though these on Railroad Street in Great Barrington will be replaced through a different program. Photo: Terry Cowgill

Eammon Coughlin, senior transportation planner for the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, said in a written statement Tuesday that the town will be notified in late December if it is awarded funding.

Click here to see the needs assessment and prioritization plan the town prepared as part of the application process, and here to read the town’s complete streets policy adopted in June 2017 and later approved by MassDOT.

The five projects are described below: 

Housatonic Main Street sidewalk extension

This project will extend the sidewalk along Main Street in Housatonic from the current end of the sidewalk west to Route 41/North Plain Road. This project was identified in the town’s award-winning master plan, and will improve safety for the many pedestrians who use this section of road.  

Click here to read volume 1 of the master plan, which was completed in 2013, and here to read volume 2.

Coughlin says the project will create a safe pedestrian connection between the neighborhood west of Housatonic and the Housatonic village center, as well as Old Maids Park and the Housy Rail Trail.

East Street bike boulevard

Speed feedback, or ‘Your Speed,’ signs like this one will be installed on East Street and North Plain Road if the state approves Great Barrington’s Complete Streets plan. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

This project will install traffic-calming speed feedback (“Your Speed”) signs and speed tables along East Street. The intent, Coughlin says,is to reduce vehicle speeds and eliminate the use of East Street as a “cut-through” street. To better accommodate cyclists, new bike warning signs will be installed and sharrow markings will be painted along the roadway.  

North Plain Road traffic calming

This project will install two traffic-calming speed feedback (“Your Speed”) signs along North Plain Road. The final locations for the signs have yet to be determined.

Route 183 traffic calming and bicycle accommodations

This project will install two traffic-calming signs along Route 183. Final locations for the signs have not yet been determined. The project will also paint sharrowmarkings and install bike warning signs along the roadway to better accommodate cyclists.   

The sharrow markings will only be painted on the portion of Route 183 where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or lower. Unfortunately, Coughlin said, this roadway is not wide enough to accommodate other bicycle improvements such as dedicated bike lanes.

West Avenue sidewalk extension

This project will extend the sidewalk along West Avenue from its current end south to Maple Avenue. The project will create greater neighborhood connectivity and improve pedestrian access to Fairview Hospital and nearby McAllister Park.

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Coughlin also asked Great Barrington residents to take a general transportation survey from the commission that will help identify countywide transportation projects and challenges. Click here to access the survey on SurveyMonkey. Coughlin also asked Great Barringtonians to forward the survey link to any county residents they think would be interested in completing it. 

The Dero bicycle repair station in front of Great Barrington Town Hall is a perfect example of a Complete Streets feature. Photo: David Scribner

Some of Great Barrington’s streets are already classified as complete streets. The recent $6 million Main Street reconstruction project qualifies, town planner Chris Rembold has said, because it is MassDOT policy to build roads that adhere to Complete Street standards. That portion of Main Street now has bike lanes and better-marked crosswalk with bump-outs, for example.

In order to find out which streets town residents and workers believed were in need of improvement and how, the town posted an online survey earlier this year, also on SurveyMonkey. Click here to read an Edge story from March that explores the topic of complete streets and so-called “shared spaces,” which have become quite popular in Europe.

More than 200 Massachusetts municipalities have registered for the program with MassDOT and 175, including Great Barrington, have had their policies approved. Nine actual projects have been approved in Berkshire County, including those in Lenox, Egremont and Sandisfield. To see the handy interactive map, click here or view the static image below:

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10 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Casey says:

    Interesting photo showing the “bike lane”. Was this intentional showing a car driving half in it? Drivers complain about bikers, you give them their own lane and what happens? Cars think they get to drive in it!! How scary for the bikers.

    1. Shawn G. says:

      Casey- it is a photo, and it looks like the car has the right signal on. Perhaps he/she pulled over for a few moments to drop someone off or pick someone up…

    2. Emily says:

      Or they could be pulled over in anticipation to parallel park in an open space.

  2. Laura C says:

    Does anyone know why the new sidewalk is being dug up in between Subway and the bakery? Also why have there been those orange barrels in front of Wheeler & Taylor since the beginning of July. I never see anyone working there.

  3. Tom Blauvelt says:

    Hi Laura,
    Handicap ramps are being installed in front of Subway and the other shops. The barrels in front of Wheeler & Taylor were put there by the town since to alert people that you need to step down onto the sidewalk. There have been at least 9 serious slips and falls by people who park their cars and do not notice that they need to step down. I think the town is exploring a better solution then those ugly barrels.

  4. Emily says:

    The bike lanes are great but I find that, in some instances, bikers have been travelling in the WRONG direction in these lanes. Please be sure to bike in the SAME direction as the traffic. I almost hit someone at an intersection because of it. And, if a police officer sees a bicyclist going in the wrong direction they should ticket the offending bicyclist.

  5. dennis irvine says:

    Bike lanes are a mixed bag, often called the ‘door death’ lane, and especially if they encourage the misconception that bicyclists do not have the right to use the full lane. It is legal, and often safer, for bicycles to use the entire lane, just like a motor vehicle.

  6. Lucinda Shmulsky says:

    “Complete Streets” is part of Agenda 2030’s “Smart Growth America” Program

    A documentary on the future of “Smart Cities” can be viewed here: E Estonia is highlighted

  7. Diane Barth says:

    “complete streets”? Can we see a “complete parking” project please?

  8. W.C. says:

    What town planning? There certainly is none in Great Barrington.

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