BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is announcing the award of over $1 million for the first round of funding in the Baker-Polito Administration’s newly-announced Shared Streets & Spaces Program.
The program, which was launched on June 10, provides technical and funding assistance to help Massachusetts cities and towns conceive, design and implement tactical changes to curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce in their communities.
The first round of funding is going to 12 communities and 75% of the funding is being provided to Environmental Justice communities.
“City and town officials have been rethinking how infrastructure can support the needs of the public to physically-distance and we are pleased to be able to offer this funding program to meet municipal needs for quick-start projects,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “For several months, people have been keeping to themselves for the most part and now, with more people moving around, communities are setting up elements to help everyone keep spaced-apart as they participate in safe, physically-distanced activities.”
The quick-launch/quick-build grant program provides grants as small as $5,000 and as large as $300,000 for municipalities to quickly launch changes to sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots in support of public health, safe mobility and renewed commerce in their communities. These improvements can be intentionally temporary, in the style of tactical urbanism, or can be pilots of potentially permanent changes to streets and sidewalks.
The Town of Natick was awarded funding to create temporary outdoor dining areas on sidewalks, parking lanes, and driving lanes, as well as various pedestrian safety measures to encourage walking and bicycling to and around downtown and slow traffic speeds using metal pedestrian fences, planters, and similar materials.
“Our Administration is pleased to partner with municipalities to help ensure that they have the tools and resources available to support keeping citizens safe as they wait for public transportation, que on sidewalks to get into stores and choose to dine outdoors,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are pleased to award this round one in funding under the Shared Streets & Spaces initiative and look forward to providing additional grants as municipalities implement projects to keep the public safe as travel returns and services reopen safely.”
“The Shared Streets & Spaces funding initiative is an important partnership which gives municipalities a helping hand with funding that can be used to immediately set up streetscape elements to keep people a safe distance apart whether bicycling, walking, waiting for public transportation, waiting in line to get in a store, or having a meal outside,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “The first dozen grant awards will help small towns and large cities alike and I am particularly pleased that more than half of the grants will benefit Environmental Justice communities that have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and deserve to benefit from recovery efforts.”
Other projects awarded included:
Buckland – To create outdoor dining space to be used in common by downtown restaurants offering take-out service, and to construct ADA compliant walkways allowing expanded use of sidewalks for outdoor dining for restaurants in the Shelburne Falls Village Area.
Chelsea – To create safe crossing locations for the anticipated increase in students walking to the Chelsea Elementary School Complex and the Brown Middle School. The project will include temporary pedestrian safety upgrades at the intersections of Crescent Avenue/Washington Avenue, Broadway/Crescent Avenue, Broadway/Stockton Street, and Broadway/Third Street that may include relocation of crosswalks, painted curb bump-outs, pedestrian beacons to increase safety and provide more congregation areas for pedestrians who need to stay socially distant. Additionally, the project will include the installation of artistic crosswalks or pathway markings to delineate the Division Street walking corridor to increase pedestrian safety.
Lexington – To create additional sidewalk space for people walking and diners to maintain safe social distancing using jersey barriers and signage to safely block off selected parking spots to allow restaurants to expand their outdoor seating as well as provide retail shops with an area to set up an outdoor table as pick-up spots. The jersey barriers will make it possible to implement these changes quickly and flexibly.
Lowell – To pilot safe paths for walking and bicycling to connect workplaces and recreational activities using temporary materials. Project includes two-way cycle track linking UMass/Lowell with downtown Lowell, installation of jersey barriers and narrowed lanes for traffic calming and speed reduction; and material installation for multi-use bicycle/pedestrian paths with connections to a local community school and park.
Medford – To expand outdoor dining options for businesses with jersey barriers, reflectors to put on top of the barriers for safety measures, temporary ADA ramps to allow for accessibility to outdoor dining spaces as well as allow for accessibility for surrounding spaces. In addition, equipment for beautification will also be obtained to make outdoor dining spaces welcoming.
Nantucket – To create expanded outside space for people and commerce by repurposing space with fencing, barriers, bicycle racks, and outdoor stage risers to ensure safety for pedestrians and to get local commerce back to business quickly.
Northampton – To create an innovative and transformative pilot project to provide new and safer spaces for people walking, bicycling, taking transit, and patronizing small shops and restaurants within the core of downtown Northampton. The project will transform Main Street into a place that provides expanded sidewalks and outdoor seating areas, dedicated bicycle lanes, floating bus stops, and a significantly narrowed vehicle travel way to support safer speeds and shorter crossings for pedestrians.
Provincetown – To add public hand wash stations, picnic tables, and traffic delineators to support health and distancing, expand public eating facilities to the residents and thousands of visitors that come to Provincetown each summer, and for similar needs.
Somerville – To create a dedicated bus lane and protected bicycle lanes at a high-delay intersection on a top 20 MBTA bus route.
Wareham – To promote the creative use of the public space in downtown Wareham by transforming the historic train station in downtown Wareham Village into an entertainment, food and hospitality area.
Webster – To create three parklets for outdoor dining and pedestrian resting areas with the intention to be made permanent on a seasonal basis.
Shared Streets & Spaces grants will continue to be awarded on a rolling basis for projects that can be implemented and used this summer and fall. MassDOT has allocated a total of $5 million for this 100-day program.
Applications are being accepted through September 29 and projects must be mostly or completely implemented by October 9.
Preference will be given to projects that can be operational within 15-30 days of award, projects in designated Environmental Justice areas and projects that show strong potential to be made permanent.
Types of projects may include:
- Shared Streets and Spaces: supporting increased rates of walking and/or biking by increasing safety and enabling social distancing
- Outdoor Dining and Commerce: calming roadways, modifying sidewalks and streets, and/or repurposing on- or off-street parking to better support curbside/sidewalk/street retail and dining
- Better Buses: supporting safer and more reliable bus transit, including expanded bus stops and lanes dedicated for bus travel, (extra scoring credit will be granted for dedicated bus lanes)
- Safe Routes to School: creating safe routes to schools (and childcare and programs for children and youth), including safer walking and biking networks with lowered vehicle speeds
The Baker-Polito Administration launched the Shared Streets & Spaces municipal grant program to support quick-build projects that can bring meaningful benefits to cities and towns. The program is modeled after the Administration’s Complete Streets Funding Program, created in February 2016, which, as of January 2020, had awarded a total $46 million to cities and towns for municipal projects improving infrastructure to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation customers. The Administration included $20 million for the Complete Streets Program as part of the Administration’s $18 billion transportation bond bill which was filed in July 2019.