By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
NORTHBOROUGH – Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Scott Charpentier announced at an April 12 Board of Selectmen meeting that $59,609 was awarded to Northborough to enhance pedestrian safety. This is the first time the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Shared Winter Streets and Spaces Grant has been offered. Each municipality can only receive a single award in accordance with program guidelines.
Northborough will use the majority of its funding for pedestrian safety improvements at high-traffic crossing areas near town recreation facilities. Improvements will specifically be made at the crosswalks at South Street and Davis Avenue, South Street at Longfellow Road, South Street at Gale Street, and East Main Street between Memorial Field and Casey Field.
The goal of the project, as stated on the February 11 town announcement of the grant application, is to improve safety and visibility in these areas. These areas have access to recreational facilities, which are often used by students, senior citizens and other residents. Additionally, pedestrian and cyclist access is promoted.
Solar-powered, pedestrian-activated, rectangular rapid flashing beacons, additional signage and new wheelchair ramps will be installed.
In addition, funding will also cover the expense of two bicycle racks at Ellsworth-McAfee Park and one each at Casey Field and Memorial Field.
“I am very pleased that through this MassDOT grant program, we are able to provide crosswalk safety improvements for our community’s recreational facilities,” Charpentier said when reached for comment.
However, there is a timely expenditure component to this grant.
“Everything needs to be spent by May 31, and we have to comply with procurement law, which generally doesn’t fall on quick timelines,” Charpentier said April 12.
Anticipating this challenge, he said he solicited bids for the required materials in advance of the award. Now that the grant award has been confirmed, the process can move forward quickly.
Additionally, the DPW staff will be doing much of the installation as another means to expedite the construction schedule.
Charpentier is excited to be able to address some citizen safety concerns as a result of the grant award.
“It’s a good project; it’s needed; it is going to be a wonderful addition to the town,” he said April 12. “We are looking forward to implementing some safety measures that have been expressed by the citizens, and we were able to find a funding mechanism to make it happen.”