I encourage all constituents to attend a public meeting next Thursday, January 31st at 7:00 PM in the City Hall Auditorium to review the City’s Draft Complete Streets Prioritization Plan. The Draft Plan is available to review on the Planning Department’s website: cityofnewburyport.com/planning-development/complete-streets. Please bring your questions and comments to the public meeting.
DRAFT “Complete streets” project prioritization plan AVAILABLE –
PUBLIC MEETING SCHEDULED on 1/31/19
Newburyport – As previously advertised, a public meeting will be held on Thursday January 31st at 7:00 p.m. in the City Hall auditorium to review the draft Complete Streets Project Prioritization Plan. The draft list of Complete Streets projects, along with a map identifying the various areas addressed in the draft plan, can be viewed online at the Newburyport Planning Office’s project web page: https://www.cityofnewburyport.com/planning-development/complete-streets
The consultant’s draft Complete Streets Project Prioritization Plan lists 37 projects. These potential projects are estimated to cost in the range of approximately $400,000 or less, along with a couple of projects that would cost more. Please note that the plan does not focus on individually ranking specific projects. All the projects identified on the list are worthwhile transportation projects, and the consultant has divided the draft list into three priority tiers (high, medium, and lower) based on criteria such as safety, the number of people served, number of Complete Streets goals advanced, existing conditions, project viability, etc.
A “Complete Street” is one that is designed to provide and encourage safe options for all users and travel modes, so that pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities can move safely and comfortably on a street along with motorists (as opposed to a street corridor that is primarily for motorized vehicles). Designing streets with these principles for travel between home, school, parks, stores, work, and other destinations contributes to the livability and quality of life in our community, as well as people’s safety, health, and the community’s overall economic viability.
As background, the Newburyport City Council adopted a Complete Streets policy on January 29, 2018 with the goal of making places in our community safer and more livable, promoting public health, and trying to reduce traffic congestion and environmental impacts. In general, our community’s transportation network is dominated by motor vehicles, and we have just begun in recent years to focus on a more balanced approach. There are many potential Complete Streets projects for us to pursue in the coming years, a process that is constrained by available resources and competing priorities. As noted in the policy, the City is trying to take a network approach that prioritizes transportation infrastructure projects that connect important destinations and address streets with known safety and/or pedestrian and bicycle connectivity problems. The adopted policy can be viewed online at the Newburyport Planning Office’s project web page: https://www.cityofnewburyport.com/planning-development/complete-streets
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation established a Complete Streets Funding Program in 2016 that requires communities to establish Project Prioritization Plans in order to be eligible to apply for construction funding of up to $400,000. The City of Newburyport received a grant of $35,000 from the state to hire a consultant to develop the required plan, and contracted with the consultant TEC, Inc. The City and the consultant have gathered input regarding potential projects and priorities from existing plans and studies, residents, citizen groups, municipal commissions, staff, City Councilors, and participants at the initial public meeting held on the project on December 13, 2018.
The upcoming public meeting on January 31st will provide an opportunity to review the draft Project Prioritization Plan, which will be finalized and submitted to the state in late February so that MassDOT can approve the plan by mid-April. This will allow the City to subsequently highlight several Complete Streets projects in an application for construction funding that is due May 1, 2019, as well as in future Complete Streets funding rounds, and other local, state, and federal public sources, as well as potentially private sources, in the coming years.