Lord Overpass Walk Report

On Monday, November 16, 2015 at 6 pm at the Lowell Senior Center, the city’s Department of Planning and Development and the civil engineers hired to redesign the Lord Overpass will hold a public meeting at which residents will have an opportunity to share their ideas about the project. In preparation for that session, yesterday Paul Marion and I led a group of 75 people on a ninety-minute walk along that Dutton/Thorndike Street corridor during which we crossed over the Lord Overpass twice. Here are some photos from today’s walk:

Adam Baacke, Lowell’s previous director of planning and development who is now with UMass Lowell, shares some background on the project at Swamp Locks.

Speaking about Jackson Street Extension, the Judicial Center site, and the Lord Overpass, all in the background of this photo

On Middlesex Street, heading up the ramp to the Lord Overpass

Up close and personal with the traffic on Lord Overpass as we head to South Common

Contemplating the beauty of South Common and all of its potential

Many thought the curbing, shrubs and trees that separate the sidewalk from Thorndike Street along South Common should be extended all the way to downtown, on both sides of the street

Welcome to Lowell. Trying to cross Chelmsford Street at Lord Overpass, heading for downtown from Gallagher Terminal

The Middlesex Street bridge over the train tracks. Pailin Plaza and the vibrant shopping district around it is only 100 yards from the Overpass at this point

State Representative Rady Mom met up with the group and promised to bring up the Lord Overpass project with Governor Baker when they meet later this week

These train track separate the 350 small businesses, mostly artists, at Western Avenue Studios (red brick building to the left) from Dutton Street and downtown Lowell

Pedestrians heading downtown on Dutton Street are wedged between the sheer walls on the left and the speeding cars on the right.

City Councilor Jim Milinazzo, chair of the transportation subcommittee, joined in the entire walk, and shared his observations with the group in the Whistler House courtyard, the final stop for the day.

Anyone interested in this section of the city, especially if you want it safer and more welcoming to walkers and bikers, should attend the session on November 16. If you’re on Facebook, please join the “Lowell Lord Overpass” group for the latest news about the project.

One Response to Lord Overpass Walk Report

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dick, thank you very much for the report and the Lowell Walks event. In my head, I have added an extra sentence to the picture of pedestrians walking along Dutton Street: Now imagine them trying to walk along this sidewalk covered in three feet of blackened ice-snow. Your comment on students walking in the street in winter resonated with me. I know that it is difficult to shovel sidewalks along busy streets, since you don’t need to shovel just the “fallen” snow but also the street salt-pack. It seems to me that throughout the city there are many slip zones where sidewalk responsibility is uncertain, e.g. underpasses along the Lowell Connector, canal, river, and brook bridges, train over/underpasses (some are very egregious like the Spaghettiville bridge) and especially at private parking lots in the neighborhoods. I can imagine that the state does not want to clear them. Perhaps the city should enter into an arrangement with the state to clear them and then be compensated for this activity. I apologize for that digression.

    What is frequently overlooked in connection to walkability, is timing: how long does it take to get from point A to point B. Factors that enter into this are time, directness of route, physical and psychological barriers, for example the parking garage at the train station or exceedingly wide and dangerous intersections that are hostile seeming to pedestrians like the proposed Dutton, Fletcher, Thorndyke and Jackson intersection. I like to take nice meandering walks when I have the time, but if I am on my way to an appointment, work, a date or a movie, I celerity becomes more significant. If the city is proposing that pedestrians from the train station walk along the Western Canal path to get to City Hall or the Smith Center, they are fooling themselves.