City Council takes up Walkability

The City Council takes up several issues related to WALKABILITY at its meeting tomorrow night at City Hall which begins at 6:30 pm in the Council chambers.

Prescott & Central – a hazard for walkers

First is a public hearing on the Complete Streets policy proposed to be adopted by the city. Complete Streets has as its “core commitment” the following:

The City of Lowell is committed to creating, maintaining and operating a safe and efficient multi-modal transportation network that accommodates all users while preserving the unique character of our neighborhoods.

The purpose of this policy (which can be viewed in its entirety HERE) is to make city streets safe and accessible for everyone, whether they are in a motor vehicle, on a bicycle, or on foot.

Cupples Square alterations

The main motivation, I believe, is that formal adoption opens the doors to some additional state funding for our transportation infrastructure, but this is also an opportunity to advocate tipping the transportation planning balance away from the auto-centric world we have lived in for the past 50 years to something more balanced. Because it is a public hearing, there is no need to register in advance to speak. At the appropriate time (the public hearing begins at 7 pm in the council chambers), anyone can speak for or against the policy. Even if you have no inclination to speak publicly, your presence in the chamber will communicate your concern for the issue of walkability, so please try to attend the meeting if at all possible.

Gov Patrick with Lord Overpass check in Oct 2014

The second item of interest is a motion by Councilor Belanger requesting the City Manager to update the City Council regarding traffic improvements and appropriation of $15 million dollars in funding for the Lord Overpass. This is a timely motion because it was last October that then-Governor Patrick arrived with a check for millions of dollars of funding for improvements to the Lord Overpass but other than a preliminary meeting at the transportation subcommittee early in the spring, nothing seems to have happened. Certainly there have been no public updates or meetings that I’m aware of. Because the Lord Overpass is a critical hub that connects several important parts of that section of the city (Lower Highlands, Hamilton Canal District, South Common, downtown), how this project is completed is vitally important to the future of the city. We don’t want to leave it entirely in the hands of the state Department of Transportation engineers.

Finally, at 5:30 pm, the council’s Transportation Subcommittee will receive a presentation from those same Mass Highway engineers on their plans for the Bridge Street – VFW Highway intersection. You may recall that a like presentation was attempted at the last city council meeting, but the Mass Highway representative didn’t really know any of the details of the project, so the presentation was kicked over to this subcommittee meeting. Not only is this intersection one of the worst in the city, both for drivers and for pedestrians, the plans for this project will provide some insight into the mindset of Mass Highway that will serve as a preview of what they might have in store for the Lord Overpass.

Again, all of this happens tomorrow night at the City Council Chambers at Lowell City Hall. Transportation Subcommittee meeting at 530; full Council Meeting at 630; public hearing on Complete Streets at 7. The full agenda for the Council Meeting is HERE.

One Response to City Council takes up Walkability

  1. Brian says:

    Looks like there’s also a vote on the request for qualifications regarding the Hamilton Canal District tonight. It would be a mistake to only target commercial businesses for the HCD. When 5pm rolls around you don’t want a ghost town. Mixed-use neighborhoods oriented for people will have the highest ROI for the city. Restaurant and retail should be mandatory for all street level units while housing and offices should be on the upper floors.

    People live in and work in the Back Bay. People work in the Financial District. Which one is a destination? The one that’s mixed-use.