Friday, November 16, 2001
School Loop test section recommended for School and Church Streets
The pedestrian and bike safety advisory committee has completed the preliminary siting of the proposed School Loop pathway. It will next recommend to the board of selectmen the initiation of a test section at the corner of Church and School Streets along the school. Their next scheduled meeting will be on November 19 to continue work on the school loop project and the public is again invited to attend and offer comments and suggestions.
In spring 2000, Town Meeting voted to allocate $30,000 to study the feasibility of a footpath along Bedford Road, Church Street and School Street. An engineering survey, at a cost of $4,000, was completed last April and, based on rights of way and preserving natural features, a first siting was made by committee members. In follow-up discussions with the department of public works and with the police department, the siting was further refined and appropriate crossing points identified along Bedford Road. Committee members have begun meeting with individual abutters with generally positive responses as well as practical requests that are considered improvements to the plan. The committee plans to make contact with all other abutters by year end, refining the plan as necessary. The committee will also meet with the Historic Commission for guidance.
The proposed siting of the school loop pathway is as follows. On School Street, beginning at the lower exit of the semi-circle driveway of the Spalding Building on School Street, it would run behind the stone wall on School Street and turn right, still behind the stone wall, along Church Street to the first driveway of the school's main parking lot. Openings in the stone wall at the corner of School and Church Streets would be created to facilitate safe street crossings in all four directions. From the first driveway of the school's main parking lot to the bottom of Church Street at Bedford Road, the foot path would be placed off the road within the wooded area between the two driveways, in front of the tennis courts and Tot Lot, and in front of the Spalding Field fence after an additional buffer zone is created. The pathway would continue along this same side at the intersection of Bedford Road and continue up to the entrance of Banta-Davis fields. Starting back from the corner of School and Church Streets toward town center, the pathway would use the existing driveway of the First Religious Society's church and a complementary path would be installed approximately three feet from the edge of the road to the corner of 7 School Street and continue to the driveway of the Hunneman Senkler real estate office and ATM. The path would continue on this side of Bedford Road, placed in the town's right of way past the library and post office. Just after the prior site of St. Irene church, a crosswalk would be located. The path would then remain on the north side of Bedford Road, utilizing the country path near the daylily nursery, and ending at the first driveway of the Kimball Farm Ice Cream stand. Additional crosswalks would be made at the Banta-Davis entrance and near Green Cemetery. All crosswalk locations will be evaluated for optimal sight lines during both dense and sparse foliage.
Gary Davis, superintendent of the department of public works, has informed the committee that the DPW can provide the tools and labor for siting and construction of the pathway up to the point where the final surface is applied. Therefore, funds will only be needed for the materials to bring a path up to a crushed stone surface and for final surface materials and application. Although using DPW resources will save money, the pace of construction will be much slower than otherwise, as the DPW must prioritize path work with roadwork obligations. A brief window of time for some site preparation work is now coming up, as road repair work winds down in November and severe winter weather has not yet arrived.
With the siting of the full loop in hand, the next phase of the project would be to begin construction on a small test section of the loop behind the stone walls on the corner of Church and School Streets between the school's two entrances: the semicircular Spalding driveway on School Street and the main parking lot entrance on Church Street. The committee will seek approval from the selectmen to spend up to $5,000 of the $30,000 budget for construction of this test section of the School Loop. The intent of the committee is to gather information on the amount of effort and dollars needed to clear and prepare a path up to the application of the final surface. This information will then be incorporated in the feasibility study. The committee is also emphasizing the additional immediate benefit of providing some measure of safety to schoolchildren as we approach the winter season. Last winter, a portion of Church Street was closed to two-way traffic and parking was prohibited to provide a place for children and parents to walk at the start and end of each school day.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito