The list of Complete Street Projects in Watertown which Town officials hope to get state funding to complete was adopted by the Town Council on Tuesday night.
Complete Streets is a practice to make roadways accessible to as many users as possible, including drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and public transportation. The list includes 24 projects, with four that will be put forward for funding this year. The projects were narrowed down from more than 150 suggestions collected from the public and the Town at meetings in December and reported back their findings at a meeting in March.
A list of at least 15 projects had to be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) by April 1, and the list for the Construction Application for this year is due by May 1, according to the town’s consultants from Alta Planning + Design.
The list includes a variety of projects, including construction of sections of the Community Path (a pedestrian and bike path through Watertown), improving crosswalks, making safe routes to school, improving pedestrian safety, and traffic calming on some roads. See the complete list here.
The four projects being put forward this year are:
Crossing improvements on Watertown Street at Theurer Park – Relocating the crosswalk on Watertown Street so it is east of Theurer Park and add handicap ramps with a curb extension on the north side and a textured pedestrian island. Estimated cost: $110,000
Crosswalk improvements on Warren Street in front of Cunniff School – Install a raised crosswalk with pedestrian activated flashing beacon in the spot of the existing crosswalk in main front entrance to the school. Estimated cost: $90,000
Improvements to the Watertown Community Path from Winter Avenue to Whites Avenue – Widen the existing 5-foot-wide path to a 10-foot-wide path. Estimated cost: $105,000
Crosswalk improvements where the Watertown Community Path crosses Whites Avenue – Install a raised crosswalk and pedestrian activated flashing beacons. Estimated cost: $75,000.
The first set of projects for which the town is applying for funding are “shovel ready,” said Town Engineer Matt Shuman, which means they are 100 percent designed. Other projects on the list are not as far along, so the Town will apply for funding in later years. The program last for five years. The state expects to have the projects constructed the year that they award the money. (See a list of projects that MassDOT funded in the past, and more information on the Complete Streets program here).
Some of the items on the list are improvements to major roadways and areas (such as Mt. Auburn Street, Arsenal Street and Watertown Square) which are already part of bigger projects being worked on by the Town.
At a Public Works subcommittee meeting last week, Shuman said it is important to show MassDOT that these projects are high priority for the Town, even if they do not get funding through the Complete Streets program.
David Watson of WatsonActive, who is consulting on the project for the town, said that there may be getting funding other sources.
“It may indicate on the prioritization that you are only requesting $200,000 but another $12 million might be anticipated from the TIP program,” Watson said, referring to the Transportation Improvement Program which is also controlled by MassDOT.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Town Councilor Michael Dattoli noted that some of the projects include installing granite curbing and he said he has heard from residents who do not like when granite curbs are installed because it narrows the roadways.
Department of Public Works Superintendent Gerry Mee said that the curbing is not just done for aesthetics, it is done to add protection for pedestrians and sidewalk users.
Dattoli added that one street he heard comments about was Edenfield Avenue, which was significantly narrowed. Some residents worry about fire trucks being able to get onto and down the street. Mee said Edenfield meets the town’s requirement of having roads at least 24 feet wide, and he said the Fire Department has looked at Edenfield and said they can get down the street.
Councilor Lisa Feltner said she is happy to see granite curbing included in the projects because it greatly improves pedestrian safety.
The Town Council voted 7-0 to approve the Complete Streets Prioritization Plan.