Category Archives: Transportation

Traffic study for Rte. 27 signal

Hannah-Adams-Rte-27-South150

A traffic signal is needed at the Rte. 27 intersection with South Street, because of traffic volumes and backups, per a January 19 letter from traffic engineers hired by Chief Meaney to study the need, summarizing their recent study.  The traffic signal is projected to cost about $200,000.

Reportedly, however, Mike Sullivan says Chief Meaney is considering whether to ask the town meeting to proceed with that traffic signal or one for the intersection of Rte. 27 and West Street, which has a high number of accidents, many of which have been serious due the speeds of the vehicles.

The letter appears below and as a more readable PDF is here  20160119-mcmanus-town of medfield_route 27 (spring street) at south street_signal memo (2…


McMAHON  ASSOCIATES
300 Myles Standish Boulevard | Suite 201 | Taunton, MA 02780
p 508-823-2245| f 508-823-2246
mcmahon a ssociates.com
PR INCI PA LS
Joseph W. McMahon, P.E. Joseph J. DeSantis, P.E., PTOE
John S. DePalma William T. Steffens Casey A. Moore, P.E.
Gary R. McNaughton, P.E., PTOE

A SSOCIA T ES
John J. Mitchell, P.E. Christopher J. Williams, P.E.
R. Trent Ebersole, P.E. Matthew M. Kozsuch, P.E. Maureen Chlebek, P.E., PTOE
Corporate Headquarters: Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
Serving the East Coast from 13 offices throughout the Mid-Atlantic, New England, and Florida

January 19, 2016
DRAFT

Chief Robert E. Meaney, Jr. Medfield Police Department 110 North Street
Medfield, MA 02052
RE:

Route 27 at South Street ‐ Medfield, MA

Dear Chief Meaney:
McMahon Associates has completed a traffic warrant analysis at the intersection of Route 27 (Spring
Street/High Street) at South Street in Medfield, Massachusetts. The purpose of this study is to
evaluate existing traffic conditions at the intersection and to determine if a traffic signal is
warranted. Our assessment is based on a review of current traffic volumes, accident data, and
anticipated traffic growth over a 10‐year period. This study examines and documents future
conditions under unsignalized and signalized scenarios.

EXISTING CONDITIONS
The study area is composed of the two intersections of Route 27 with South Street, which are offset
intersections approximately 600 feet apart. The study area intersections are displayed in the
attached Figure 1. The southerly intersection of Route 27 (High Street) and South Street is
currently signalized, while the northerly intersection of Route 27 (Spring Street) and South Street
is unsignalized, with free‐flowing traffic on Route 27 and stop control on South Street.

Route 27 (Spring Street/High Street) is a two‐way, two‐lane urban principal arterial under Town of
Medfield jurisdiction. Route 27 is approximately 30 feet in width providing one‐foot wide shoulders
on either side of the roadway and generally runs in the north‐south direction through the Town of
Medfield. Route 27 currently has a posted speed limit of 40 miles an hour in the study area.

Both segments of South Street are two‐lane, two‐way urban minor arterials also under Town of
Medfield jurisdiction, which runs in the east‐west direction through the Town of Medfield. The two
segments of South Streets have shoulder widths varying from one to three feet on either
side, with a posted speed limit of 30 miles an hour in the study area.

Chief Robert E. Meaney
DRAFT
January 19, 2016
Page 2 of 9

Route 27 (High Street) at South Street
At the southerly intersection with South Street, Route 27 (High Street) provides a through lane and
exclusive right turn lane on the southbound approach, and a through lane and exclusive left turn
lane on the northbound approach. South Street is approximately 40 feet in width and provides a
single multi‐use lane on the eastbound approach with shoulder widths ranging from one to three feet
on either side. There is a crosswalk located across the southbound approach at the intersection,
which spans across Route 27 and provides connectivity between the sidewalk on the eastern side of
Route 27 and the northern side of South Street. There is also a raised island present on the
southbound approach to facilitate the channelized right turn lane. The intersection of Route 27
(High Street) at South Street is currently signalized in all directions and provides an exclusive
pedestrian phase.

Route 27 (Spring Street) at South Street
The northerly intersection of Route 27 (Spring Street) at South Street is approximately 25 feet in
width at its intersection with South Street, providing one‐foot shoulders on either side. South
Street is approximately 75 feet wide at its intersection with Route 27 (Spring Street), with no
shoulders on either side of the roadway. South Street is currently under stop control at the
intersection, while Route 27 (Spring Street) is free‐flowing in the north‐south direction. There
are currently no crosswalks present at the intersection of Route 27 (Spring Street) at South
Street. However, there is an existing portion of sidewalk on the southeastern corner of the
intersection which provides connectivity to the intersection of Route 27 (High Street) at South
Street.

Sight Distance
A field review of the available sight distance was conducted at the South Street westbound approach
at the intersection of Route 27 (Spring Street). Route 27 (Spring Street) has a posted speed limit
of 40 miles per hour in both directions. The American Association of State Highway and
Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) publication, A Policy on Geometric Design, 2011 Edition, defines
minimum and desirable sight distances at intersections. The minimum sight distance is based on the
required stopping sight distance (SSD) for vehicles traveling along the main road and the desirable
sight distance allows vehicles to enter the main street traffic flow without requiring the mainline
traffic to slow to less than 70% of their speed and is referred to as intersection sight distance
(ISD). According to AASHTO, “If the available sight distance for an entering or crossing vehicle is
at least equal to the appropriate stopping sight distance for the major road, then drivers have
sufficient time to anticipate and avoid collisions.” The following table summarizes the sight
distance standards for the various speeds.

Chief Robert E. Meaney
DRAFT
January 19, 2016
Page 3 of 9

Table 1
Sight Distance Requirements

Approach      Movement

Speed (MPH)

SSD
Required (ft)

SSD
Measured (ft)

ISD
Required (ft)

ISD
Measured (ft)

Meets Requirements

South Street WB at Route 27 (Spring Street)

Left (South)         40               305                 500+                445              500+
Yes

Right
40               305                 500+                445              500+
Yes
(North)

For the westbound approach of South Street, there is over 500 feet of sight distance in either
direction along Route 27 (Spring Street). Based on the above mentioned requirements for stopping
sight distance and intersection sight distance with a posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour, the
South Street approach at the intersection with Route 27 (Spring Street) provides sufficient
available sight distance.

Existing Traffic Volumes
To assess peak hour traffic conditions, manual turning movement counts were conducted at the study
area intersections on Tuesday, November 10, 2015. The traffic counts were conducted during the
weekday morning peak period from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and the weekday afternoon peak period from 4:00
PM to 6:00 PM. The traffic counts are summarized in 15 minute intervals and are attached. The
resulting 2015 unsignalized traffic volumes are shown in Figure 2.

In addition, Automatic Traffic Recorder (ATR) data was collected for a 24‐hour period from Tuesday,
November 10, 2015 through Wednesday, November 11, 2015 on both Route 27 (Spring Street) and South
Street to determine the hourly distributions of traffic for the traffic signal warrant analysis.

MUTCD Signal Warrants
Signal warrant analyses were performed for the unsignalized intersection based on procedures
outlined in the latest edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD
establishes nine criteria, referred to as warrants, for the installation of traffic signals. The
manual states that satisfaction of these warrants does not in itself require the installation of a
traffic signal. However, a traffic signal should not be installed unless one or more of the
warrants are met. The analyses performed for this report are based on the criteria for the eight‐
hour, four‐hour, and peak hour volume warrants, as well as the pedestrian volume and crash
experience warrants.

Chief Robert E. Meaney
DRAFT
January 19, 2016
Page 4 of 9

Eight‐hour, four‐hour and peak hour signal warrant analyses were performed using existing traffic
volumes at the intersection of Route 27 (Spring Street) and South Street. The results of the signal
warrant analyses are attached, and a summary of the results are presented below in Table 2.

Table 2: Signal Warrant Summary

Intersection                         Eight‐Hour      Four‐Hour     Peak Hour     Pedestrian
Route 27 (Spring Street)

Crash Experience

at South Street                             Yes                   Yes                  Yes
No                   No

As seen in Table 2, the intersection of Route 27 (Spring Street) at South Street meets the peak
hour, four hour traffic signal warrants (Warrant 2 and 3), and the eight‐hour traffic signal
warrant (Warrant 1), but does not meet the pedestrian warrant (Warrant 4), or crash experience
warrant (Warrant 7).

For the eight‐hour vehicular volume signal warrant (Warrant 1) to be met, minimum vehicular volumes
for the major street and minor street, found in Table 4C‐1 of the MUTCD, must be exceeded for one
of two volume conditions. Per MUTCD methodology, the 70% factor lowering the volume thresholds
required for satisfying the warrants is applicable to this intersection because of the 40 mph
posted speed limit. A summary of the results of the eight‐hour warrant are presented below in Table
3.

Chief Robert E. Meaney
DRAFT
January 19, 2016
Page 5 of 9

Table 3: Eight‐Hour (Warrant 1) Signal Warrant Summary

Hour

Northbound Volume

Southbound Volume

Existing 2015 Total Major Street Volume

Minor Street Volume

Condition 1 Met1

Condition 2 Met2

6:00 AM                 819                         306                         1125
33                       no                        no
7:00 AM                1388                       640                         2028
143                     yes                       yes
8:00 AM                1100                       588                         1688
132                     yes                       yes
9:00 AM                 649                         501                         1150
99                       no                        yes
10:00 AM                485                         421                          906
111                     yes                       yes
11:00 AM                469                         512                          981
141                     yes                       yes
12:00 PM                 486                         475                          961
142                     yes                       yes
1:00 PM                 488                         487                          975
137                     yes                       yes
2:00 PM                  593                         773                         1366
279                     yes                       yes
3:00 PM                  581                         934                         1515
302                     yes                       yes
4:00 PM                  674                        1007                        1681
276                     yes                       yes
5:00 PM                  702                        1010                        1712
218                     yes                       yes
6:00 PM                  581                         882                         1463
215                     yes                       yes
7:00 PM                 369                         452                          821
130                     yes                       yes

1 Ma jor street volume greater than 350 vehicles pe r hour and minor street volume greater than 105
vehicles pe r hour. 2 Ma jor street volumes greater than 525 vehicles pe r hour and minor street
volume greater than 53 vehicles pe r hour.
****Spe ed Limit is 40 mph on Route 27 (Spring Street)

As seen in Table 3, both Conditions 1 and 2 of the eight‐hour signal warrant were satisfied during
ten consecutive hours, which surpasses the necessary eight‐hour signal warrant requirements. Based
on the results of the eight‐hour signal warrant and MUTCD criteria, the installation of a traffic
signal at the intersection is warranted. In addition, the results of four‐ hour and peak hour
warrants also support the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection.

Accident Summary
Crash data for the study area intersection was obtained from the Massachusetts Department of
Transportation (MassDOT) for the most recent three‐year period available. This data includes
complete yearly crash summaries for 2011, 2012, and 2013. A summary of the crash data is attached.

The signalized intersection of Route 27 (High Street) at South Street had a total of 11 crashes
reported over the three‐year period from 2011‐2013, resulting in a crash rate of 0.44 crashes per
million entering vehicles at the intersection. This value is lower than the average crash rates of
0.80 and 0.89 for signalized intersections statewide and in MassDOT District 3, respectively. It
should also be noted that the majority of the crashes were rear‐end type crashes resulting in
property damage, which are typical at a signalized intersection.

Chief Robert E. Meaney
DRAFT
January 19, 2016
Page 6 of 9

The unsignalized intersection of Route 27 (Spring Street) at South Street had a total of nine
crashes reported over the three‐year period from 2011‐2013, resulting in a crash rate of 0.37
crashes per million entering vehicles. This is lower than both the statewide and MassDOT District 3
averages for unsignalized intersections of 0.60 and 0.66 crashes per million entering vehicles,
respectively. The majority of the crashes that occurred at the intersection were angle or rear‐end
collisions; however, there were two crashes that were head‐on collisions. All of the reported
crashes resulted in property damage and there do not appear to be any trends related to weather or
time of day.

BACKGROUND TRAFFIC GROWTH
A background growth rate of one percent per year was identified in order to forecast increases in
traffic volumes on the study area roadways and intersections for our future analyses based on
information provided by the Town of Medfield. This rate captures growth associated with general
changes in population and accounts for other small developments in the vicinity of the study area
and is consistent with similar traffic studies completed in this area in recent years. No
additional developments or other roadway projects were identified to be included in the future
traffic analysis. The resulting 2025 Unsignalized traffic volumes are shown in Figure 3 for the
weekday morning and weekday afternoon.

TRAFFIC OPERATIONS ANALYSIS
As a basis for this assessment, intersection capacity analyses were conducted using Synchro
capacity analysis software for the study area intersection under the 2015 Existing, 2025
Unsignalized, and 2025 Signalized conditions. The analysis was based on procedures contained in the
Highway Capacity Manual (HCM). Capacity analysis summaries are attached. A discussion of the
evaluation criteria and a summary of the results of the capacity analyses are presented below.

Level‐of‐Service Criteria
Operating levels of service (LOS) are reported on a scale of A to F with A representing the best
conditions (with little or no delay) and F representing the worst operating conditions (long
delays). In an urbanized area, LOS D is typically considered adequate.

Capacity Analysis Results
Intersection capacity analyses were conducted for the study area intersections to evaluate the 2015
Existing conditions, as well as 2025 Unsignalized, and 2025 Signalized peak hour traffic
conditions. Based on our analysis, the peak hour of the adjacent street traffic occurs between 7:15
AM and 8:15 AM for the weekday morning, and 4:45 PM and 5:45 PM for the weekday afternoon peak
periods. The results of the capacity analyses are presented in Tables 4 and 5 below for the morning
and afternoon peaks, respectively.

Chief Robert E. Meaney
DRAFT
January 19, 2016
Page 7 of 9

Table 4: Morning Level of Service Summary

2015 Existing      2025 Unsignalized

2025 Signalized

Intersection

Movement

LOS1  Delay2   V/C3   LOS1  Delay2   V/C3   LOS1  Delay2   V/C3

Route 27 (High Street)       EB         L                F      155.9    1.28      F      213.6
1.41      F       81.8     1.06
at South Street                                R                A        3.8      0.12      A
0.1      0.05      A        0.6      0.05
NB       L                B       10.2     0.14      B       10.6     0.16      E       76.9
0.56
T                F      227.1    1.44      F      293.1    1.59      F      271.9    1.51
SB         T                C       33.4     0.92     D       53.7     1.02      F       67.8
0.96
R                A        0.1      0.10      A        0.1      0.11      A        0.8      0.11

Overall

F      134.1    1.44      F      179.4    1.59      F      148.1    1.51

Route 27 (Spring Street)    WB      L                F     1175.1   3.24      F     2097.3   5.17
D       39.0     0.68
at South Street                                R                D       28.3     0.11     D
34.7     0.15      B       11.4     0.09
NB       TR             A        0.0      0.00      A        0.0      0.00      A       11.8
0.78
SB         LT              C       18.2     0.06      C       21.2     0.08      A        8.1
0.64

1 Level‐of‐Service

Overall

B       10.3     0.78

2 Average vehicle delay in seconds 3 Volume to capacity ratio
n/a Not Applicable

Chief Robert E. Meaney
DRAFT
January 19, 2016
Page 8 of 9

Table 5: Afternoon Level of Service Summary

2015 Existing      2025 Unsignalized

2025 Signalized

Intersection

Movement LOS1  Delay2   V/C3   LOS1  Delay2   V/C3   LOS1  Delay2   V/C3

Route 27 (High Street)      EB    L                  B       12.2     0.36      B       12.5
0.39      E       79.0     0.75
at South Street                           R                 A        0.0      0.02      A
0.0      0.02      A        0.7      0.02
NB   L                  B       10.8     0.31      B       11.8     0.34      B       10.4     0.20
T                 C       34.8     0.94      E       61.3     1.05      B       14.3     0.61
SB    T                  B       15.8     0.75      C       20.6     0.83      B       13.6
0.48
R                 A        0.4      0.30      A        0.5      0.33      A        1.2      0.34

Overall

B       18.1     0.94      C       28.6     1.05      B       15.6     0.75

Route 27 (Spring Street)   WB  L                  F     1250.2   3.53      F     2116.2   5.39
F       94.1     1.04
at South Street                           R                 C       15.7     0.05      C       17.2
0.07      B       15.2     0.08
NB   TR               A        0.0      0.00      A        0.0      0.00      A        6.7
0.57
SB    LT               B       10.2     0.02      B       10.7     0.03      B       16.1     0.86

1 Level‐of‐Service

Overall

C       21.0     1.04

2 Average vehicle delay in seconds 3 Volume to capacity ratio
n/a Not Applicable

As seen in Tables 4 and 5, the proposed signal at the intersection of Route 27 (Spring Street) at
South Street is expected to operate at an overall LOS B during the weekday morning peak hour and at
overall LOS C during the weekday afternoon peak hour. During the weekday morning peak hour, the
westbound and southbound movements are expected to improve in operations compared to the future
unsignalized condition, based on the level of service. During the weekday afternoon peak hour, the
westbound right and southbound movements are expected to improve compared to the future
unsignalized condition, based on level of service. The implementation of a signal at the
intersection will potentially improve the operations of the South Street westbound approach. In
addition, the potential implementation of a dedicated northbound right turn lane on the Route 27
(South Street) approach, as shown in Figure 4, is expected to improve operations at the
intersection. The implementation of a traffic signal in combination with northbound right turn lane
modifications on Route 27 (Spring Street/South Street) would potentially involve Right‐of‐Way
impacts.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Based on the MUTCD traffic signal warrants, accident data, and sight distance measurements, it is
recommended that a two‐phase actuated traffic signal be installed at the intersection of Route
27 (Spring Street) at South Street. A traffic signal will provide significant operational
improvements to the South Street westbound approach while maintaining adequate operations for Route
27 (Spring Street/South Street).  A traffic signal concept plan for the intersection of

Chief Robert E. Meaney
DRAFT
January 19, 2016
Page 9 of 9

Route 27 (Spring Street) at South Street is shown in Figure 4. The preliminary construction cost to
install a signal at this intersection is approximately $200,000. This estimate does not include
costs related to potential roadway widening on the eastern side of the northbound approach on Route
27 (South Street), which will allow for more efficient traffic operations at the intersection. In
addition, the potential right‐of‐way or land acquisition costs have not been accounted for in this
estimate.

CONCLUSION
Based on the existing traffic volumes, accident history, and signal warrant analysis, it is
recommended that an actuated and coordinated traffic signal be installed at the intersection of
Route 27 (Spring Street) at South Street. The signal warrant analysis concludes that the
intersection volumes adequately satisfy the peak hour, four‐hour, and eight‐hour warrant
requirements. The capacity analysis indicates that signalizing the intersection will minimize
delay, and allow the intersection to operate at a LOS B and C during the weekday morning and
weekday afternoon peak hours. Under the future unsignalized conditions, motorists on South Street
will continue to experience long delays in the LOS F range during both peak hours. By installing a
signal, these motorists will experience much more acceptable levels of service.

We trust that our review and recommendations have provided you with the appropriate technical
information to finalize a decision on this request. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you
require any further information.
Very truly yours,
Phil Viveiros, P.E., PTOE Project Manager
Attachments
Figure 1 – Study Area Map
Figure 2 – 2015 Existing Weekday Peak Hour Volumes Figure 3 – 2025 Future Weekday Peak Hour Volumes
Figure 4 – Traffic Signal Concept Plan
Traffic Count Data Signal Warrant Backup
Synchro Analysis Reports

MBTA’s The Ride at risk in Medfield

This from the Statehouse News Service, via John Nunnari –

State-House-smaller_1 (1)

SENIORS TURN OUT TO WARN AGAINST CHANGES THAT COULD MAKE THEM “SHUT-INS”

 

By Andy Metzger and Matt Murphy

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

 

BOSTON, DEC. 14, 2015…..If the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board votes to eliminate “premium” services on the Ride, a door-to-door paratransit system, about a dozen people are prepared to be arrested Monday, according to Carolyn Villers, executive director of Mass Senior Action Council.

 

Villers anticipates the board will not take that step, and said if the elimination of “premium” services remains a possibility, a group of activists will go to Gov. Charlie Baker’s office to protest the proposal. If the board votes Monday to eliminate it “we will be rather disruptive,” Villers told the News Service.

 

The MBTA is wrestling with a projected $242 million deficit in fiscal 2017. The premium service applies to areas outside the Americans with Disabilities Act-mandated para-transit zone and applies to rides that are scheduled and taken on the same day, according to Villers.

 

A map Villers provided shows areas deemed premium in the Ride’s service area, including Medfield, most of Concord, Topsfield and part of Weymouth. The control board is meeting Monday after a joint meeting with the MassDOT board.

 

Advocates are warning against any reductions in services for elders and the disabled who rely on The Ride to buy grocery and get to doctor appointments.

 

Mass Home Care says that any move to cut back on “premium” services will lead to more “shut-ins” cut off from help to conduct their daily lives.

 

“If the MBTA takes The Ride off the road, we will lose more than 210,000 trips that not only link elders to needed services — but reduces their isolation in their homes for those who no longer can drive on their own,” Candy Kuebel, of Mass Home Care, plans to tell the board.

 

The T has estimated that it could save $5.2 million to $10.4 million starting early next year by limiting the door-to-door Ride service to the areas specifically required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

Mass Home Care said seniors were already impacted by Ride fare increases in 2012 and did not receive a cost-of-living adjustment in their Social Security. Use of The Ride fell 20 percent after the fare hikes, according to Mass Home Care.

 

“You have heard the term ‘shut-ins.’ Well, no senior wants to be called a “shut-in,” but that’s exactly what the MBTA will be creating if you put the brakes on ‘premium rides,'” Kuebel said.

 

END

12/14/2015

 

Serving the working press since 1910

http://www.statehousenews.com

Thoughts on MSH as planning begins

Sarah Raposa, our Town Planner, sent out the agenda for the first meeting on Wednesday with the town’s master planning consultant, VHB, for the former Medfield State Hospital site.  As part of her email, Sarah suggested that people jot down thoughts, and below are mine:


Medfield State Hospital Site – Issues to Consider at Outset of the Planning Process

1.    Clean Slate – The past discussions and the visioning session created an interesting list of ideas, but should in no way limit options going forward.

2.    Infrastructure – lots needed, and best if developers instead of town can be made to pay

3.    Natural Resources – exist in abundance, and will continue to exist in abundance even if the town opts for a dense development

4.    Environmental – site has been mainly cleaned of known hazards, except the lead paint and asbestos in the buildings

5.    Transportation – none available – shuttle to downtown and train would be ideal

6.    Historic Resources – buildings are beautiful, but likely too far gone to be preserved

7.    Arts & Culture – it would serve the town well to spend to make such uses happen

8.    Housing – will be the economic engine of any development, and if planned well, even if dense, need not be feared in terms of municipal costs and impacts

9.    Open Space & Recreation – exist in abundance, and will continue to exist in abundance even if the town opts for a dense development

Medfield gets the rest of its road $

Governor Patrick failed to release $100m. of appropriated road repair monies this fiscal year, as he did last fiscal year also, because the legislature failed to appropriate as much as he wanted for the transportation budget.  Governor Baker released those monies on his first day in office.


 

GOV. BAKER WILL RELEASE $100 MIL IN LOCAL ROAD FUNDS

By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JAN. 8, 2014…..Gov. Charlie Baker will make good on a campaign promise Thursday afternoon by making his first official action as governor to release $100 million for local road and bridge repairs.

The funding, which had been authorized by the Legislature but withheld by former Gov. Deval Patrick, will be dispersed to cities and towns to pay for local infrastructure projects.

Patrick released $200 million for Chapter 90 last year, but held back the additional funding because he said the borrowing capacity was needed for other transportation priorities.

Lawmakers were highly critical of Patrick’s decision not to release the funding, and Baker during the campaign pledged to release the funding as soon as he took office.

During his inaugural address, Baker on Thursday said he hoped to address a “spending problem” in state government to address a midyear budget gap that he estimated at more than $500 million.

Baker, who supported a November ballot law that unhinged the gas tax from an inflation index, said during his address that he would hold the line on taxes but that everything else was on the table in the upcoming budget-balancing exercise.

The governor must file a fiscal 2016 spending plan by March 4, though a proposal to address the midyear gap could be rolled out before that date.

Trails healthy for kids

This article comes for the email I get from http://efficientgov.com   I like the idea of connecting parts of town to the downtown via trails.  The  Bay Colony Rail Trail could help to link the neighborhoods along the North Street, Colonial Road, Blacksmith Drive, Surrey Lane areas out to Harding Street, where the connection to the downtown could be made via another trail and/or a sidewalk into town.
nature trail

STUDY: Access To Trails Reduces Youth Obesity

What Happened?
A recent study found municipalities with more non-motorized nature trails and forest lands reported higher levels of youth activity and lower childhood obesity rates. Interestingly, counties with more nature preserves had lower activity levels – underscoring the importance of investing in the right type of public green space to improve public health.

Goal
According to researchers from the University of Missouri and the University of Minnesota, adding non-motorized trails to municipalities, and creating easy access for local youth, directly increased physical activity rates and lowered obesity rates. Conversely, counties with more nature preserves showed decreased levels of youth physical activity, while parklands showed no impact one way or the other.

The study compared youth activity and obesity rates in all Minnesota counties to the amount of public non-motorized nature trails, motorized nature trails, nature preserves, parklands and forest land. The study revealed:

  • Non-motorized nature trails: Increased activity, lowered obesity
  • Nature preserves: Decreased activity
  • Public forest land: Increased activity rates
  • Parklands: No impact

The researchers concluded that non-motorized nature trails are designed with outdoor exercise in mind and encourage physical activity, while nature preserves typically attract sightseers observing and appreciating the green space.

The researchers recommend municipalities evaluate their outdoor recreational spaces to ensure the resources are encouraging physical activity as well as diversifying the landscape. Specific trail designs, for example, are used for walking, running or biking and can have a direct impact on residential activity levels.

Funding Trails
There are a variety of ways municipalities are paying for the construction of trails and greenways that connect residents to outdoor recreational space. The federal government offers grants through its Transportation Alternatives program which includes the Transportation Enhancements funds and Safe Routes to School funds. Projects eligible for the funding include converting abandoned railways into non-motorized trails and planning projects for adding off-road trails. Localities can also add trails to and from schools making it safer for pedestrians to navigate neighborhoods away from cars.

Furthermore, municipalities can apply for funding through the Recreational Trails Program which supports projects to develop and maintain recreational trails and facilities for motorized and non-motorized pathways. The program focuses on initiatives that encourage and enable a variety of trail activities and uses such as:

  • Hiking
  • Bicycling
  • Skating
  • Equestrian use
  • Cross-country skiing

Each state has a trail administrator that must assess the project to determine if it qualifies for funding by meeting specific criteria:

  • Maintenance or restoration of existing trails
  • Development or rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and linkages
  • Acquisition of necessary easements
  • Administrative costs
  • Trail education programs

At least 30 percent of all Recreational Trails Program funds are set aside for non-motorized trails. States are able to opt out of Recreational Trails Program funding, and allocate the money toward other transit projects. Therefore, it is imperative for municipalities to continue to push for trail funding.

Other federal funding opportunities for trail projects through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration include the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program and the Federal Lands and Tribal Transportation Program.

Perks of Trails
EfficientGov has reported on several trail projects funded by federal grants, many of which offer an economic benefit as well as health perks.

MMA on Transportation bill

This today from the Massachusetts Municipal Association –

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TRANSPORTATION CONFERENCE COMMITTEE AGREES ON $300 MILLION FOR CHAPTER 90 IN FISCAL 2015

House & Senate to Vote on Transportation Conference Committee Report this Week

Ch. 90 Funds Should be Available Immediately After the Bill is Signed into Law

Early last night, the House-Senate conference committee reached agreement on the final version of the Legislature’s statewide transportation bond bill, and filed the compromise measure with the House Clerk. This sets up a final vote to approve the bill and send it to the Governor’s Desk this week. The House plans a vote on Wednesday, April 16, and the Senate plans a vote the next day. After that, the Governor will have 10 days to sign the bill.

Lawmakers have stated that they have written the final bill to include the so-called “terms bill” language that has usually passed as separate legislation after the Governor signs the bond bill. This is intended to eliminate the long delay between enactment of the bond bill and the official release of Chapter 90 and other transportation funds. Absent unforeseen developments, this means that the fiscal 2015 provisional Chapter 90 authorization letters will become official once the Governor signs the bond bill into law.

The sweeping 5-year $13 billion bond bill includes a $300 million Chapter 90 authorization for fiscal year 2015, matching the fiscal 2014 authorization passed last summer. In spite of the higher authorization from the Legislature, the Patrick Administration has already announced that they plan on releasing just $200 million. On April 1st, MassDOT sent provisional letters of authorization to cities and towns announcing that they plan on officially releasing $200 million after the passage of the transportation bond bill.

The release of the full $300 million Chapter 90 authorization continues to be a major issue of contention between the Legislature and the Governor, with lawmakers siding with local officials in support of releasing the full amount. The House chair of the transportation committee stated this week that the Legislature will continue to support $300 million for Chapter 90, and that the authorization would stay in place so that the current Administration or the new Governor in January could act to release the full amount.

Earlier this year, lawmakers in the House and Senate had each approved different versions of the statewide transportation bond bill that includes future funding for the vital Chapter 90 program for the maintenance and repair of local roads. The Senate bill included a $1.5 billion Chapter 90 authorization intended to provide $300 million in annual funding over the next five years, from fiscal 2015 through fiscal 2019. The House bill provided only one year of funding at $300 million for fiscal 2015. Language in the Senate bill included several new rules governing the use of Chapter 90 funds that would have reduced local flexibility to address municipal needs by imposing unnecessary and overreaching new reporting and accounting requirements. The House did not include this language.

The final compromise bill ironed out by the House and Senate conferees settled on the House’s one-year Chapter 90 authorization at $300 million, and softened the restrictions proposed by the Senate. The final bill states that a community will only be able to carry forward more than 50 percent of the allocated Chapter 90 authorization from one year to the next if the city or town submits a 5-year spending outline to MassDOT. Also, the bill includes language requiring MassDOT to provide “preliminary notice” of the Chapter 90 authorizations by March 1 of each year. This is a change from past practice in previous Chapter 90 bond bills, which included language requiring cities and towns to receive official notice of their Chapter 90 authorizations by April 1 of each year.

Clearly, municipal leaders have succeeded in convincing Representatives and Senators of the need to increase Chapter 90 funding to $300 million a year – that is a significant victory. Winning release of the full $300 million will continue to be a top priority for the MMA, and we will not cease until all of the funds flow directly to cities and towns. In addition, we will continue to monitor the state’s administration of the Chapter 90 program to secure timely notification and release of the funds to maximize planning and make full use of the construction season, and oppose any state rules to restrict local flexibility.

The MMA is continuing to analyze the details of the sweeping transportation bond bill, so please check the MMA website at www.mma.org for more information. Thank You.

 

Chap. 90 monies may get funded

This courtesy of Statehouse News Service, by way of John Nunnari –

DEAL REACHED ON MULTI-YEAR $13B TRANSPO BOND BILL:
House and Senate negotiators reached a deal Monday afternoon on a $13 billion transportation borrowing bill that includes a one-year $300 million authorization for local road repairs in fiscal 2015 and funding for the Green Line extension, South Coast rail, the expansion of South Station and scores of other local projects. The House, which plans to meet on Tuesday in an informal session, could accept the report of the conference committee ( H 4046) and schedule a vote to engross the bond bill for Wednesday. The Senate could take it up as soon as Thursday when it plans to meet in a formal session. The compromise bill was negotiated by Transportation Committee Chairmen Rep. William Straus and Sen. Thomas McGee, Reps. Stephen Kulik and Peter Durant, and Sens. Stephen Brewer and Robert Hedlund. Straus told the New Service that despite cities and towns being informed by the Patrick administration to only expect $200 million in Chapter 90 road money this year, he’s hopeful the full amount will be eventually authorized. The conferees opted against a five-year Chapter 90 authorization as proposed in the Senate version of the bill. “We’ve authorized $300 million because we believe that’s a reasonable level and it did not escape our attention that Deval Patrick will only be governor for half of the next fiscal year. It may be that the next governor is inclined to make full use of the $300 million authorization,” Straus said. The bill also includes language to preserve the “right of way” and spend up to $2 million to update environmental impact documents related to a potential underground rail link between North and South stations. In addition to authorizing the purchase of new Red and Orange Line cars, Straus said the conference report also calls for those T cars to be assembled in Massachusetts and requires the potential for job creation to be considered when choosing a location where the work will be done. The bill would also earmark $65 million for the dredging of Boston Harbor to increase the depth of the port and make it more accommodating to large cargo ships. “There’s a lot of competition with East Coast cities and to get Boston harbor to a good 40 foot depth is important,” Straus said. To view the full conference report, visit: http://www.statehousenews.com/docs/2014/04-14_TranspoBondBill.pdf – M. Murphy/SHNS

John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA