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Letter of Support for Belchertown’s Reconstruction of Maple and State Street: Project Need

Letter of Support for Belchertown’s Reconstruction of Maple and State Street: Project Need

Mr. Richard J. Masse, P.E.
Acting District Highway Director
811 North King St. Northampton, MA 01016

October 15, 2015

Dear Mr. Masse,

I am writing to express my support for Belchertown’s Project Need Form for the reconstruction of Maple Street and State Street. I am the Program Director at WalkBoston, a state-wide non-profit working to create more pedestrian-friendly communities across Massachusetts. We provide technical assistance to municipalities in partnership with MassDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Awareness and Enforcement program, as well as the Department of Public Health’s Mass in Motion program to promote physical activity and healthy living. We are proud to work closely with our partner and Mass in Motion grantee Healthy Hampshire to support efforts to make Belchertown more walkable.

On May 1, 2015, in partnership with Healthy Hampshire, WalkBoston conducted a walk audit of the Route 202 corridor along Maple Street and State Street to assess existing pedestrian conditions and identify potential infrastructure improvements. Eighteen Belchertown residents, as well as municipal staff from the Planning Department and Conservation Commission, attended the walk audit. The audit found a number of barriers to walking along the Route 202 corridor, including a lack of continuous sidewalks on both sides of the road, a lack of pedestrian safety facilities such as signage, pedestrian lights, raised crosswalks and detectable warning strips, and overly long crosswalks.

The pending redevelopment of the Belchertown state school on Route 202 presents a powerful opportunity to incorporate more pedestrian-friendly designs and infrastructure into this important corridor. Traffic calming techniques, continuous sidewalks and/or off-road paved paths, beautification of public spaces, and better connectivity to local trail networks will all improve the walking environment in Belchertown. Implementing these measures will enhance Belchertown residents’ access to their homes, businesses, schools and social services, as well as future economic opportunities from the state school redevelopment.

Thank you for your timely consideration of these issues. WalkBoston looks forward to working with you to advance active transportation and safe walking in Belchertown.

Sincerely,

Stacey Beuttell
Program Director, WalkBoston

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