Sunday, August 19, 2012

MassDOT funds Quaker Meeting House Road sidewalk project

UPDATE: WBZ ran a news story on the QMH Road sidewalk grant. See it here:

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/08/13/state-program-helps-communities-fix-infrastructure-problems/

Aesop taught us a thing or two about perseverance in the fable The Tortoise and the Hare. That lesson was applied to the long awaited project to build a sidewalk on the entire length of Quaker Meeting House Road in the Town of Sandwich and, as was the case in the children's story, the project/tortoise made it across the funding finish line five years after it was pitched by a citizens' group to the board of selectmen.

The source of the long delay in funding was the project's timing. Proposed just prior to the economic collapse and Great Recession, it quickly took on a low priority when even high priority projects were not getting funded.

This changed last year with a big effort by the offices of both Senate President Therese Murray and myself. The economic recovery provided some breathing room and MassDOT created a funding mechanism to deal with smaller projects that never seemed to rise to the top of the priority list. Murray and I wrote letters of support for the project and assign staff to "dog" the project through the approval process. Personnel at MassDOT were also very helpful along the way, seeing the value of this public safety project.

All of this effort moved the project within eye shot of the goal line, at which time the Senate President made a personal effort to complete the process. The contract between the town and MassDOT is for $960,000 and DPW Director, Paul Tilton, indicated that work should start this fall and, with luck, can be concluded before next summer.

See the press release about the project by clicking here.


Here are my comments from today's press conference:

I am very pleased that this key project for the Town of Sandwich has been funded. This road is home to three of the four public school buildings in the town and has been too congested for school children and other walkers to negotiate it safely for years now.

Someday, someone will not be injured or killed by a passing car because of the sidewalk that will run the length of Quaker Meeting House Road. We'll never know when that person's life won't be ended, or significantly changed, but I assure you that moment will happen.

Shortly after assuming my job as state representative in 2011, I came to the realization that a project with an earmark and five bucks will buy you a latte at Starbucks. The real work is in generating the plans, promoting the project, getting it in front of the proper decision makers, and making sure that the merits of the project are understood.

My thank you's go out: 
To the people who created a grassroots effort to bring the project to the forefront, who displayed both passion and research at a 2007 selectmen meeting, and who penned more than a twenty letters that were filed with MassDOT;

To the selectmen and our town manager and assistant town manager who embraced the project and made it a priority;

To the people that designed the sidewalk system and handled the details of filing plans, writing letters of explanation, and following the progress of the project hearings, our Engineering Department & DPW, led by Paul Tilton;

To my legislative aide, Susann Koelsch, for being relentless in keeping this project on the political radar and moving forward;

To Jackie Horigan, the Senate President's Director of Constituent Services, who helped us decipher the approval process and who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the project on track;

To the Secretary of Transportation, Richard Davey, MassDOT Highway Administrator, Frank DePaola, and all of the staff in District 5, who supported this project from the beginning and found a way to make it happen;

And, finally to Senate President Therese Murray, who wrote multiple letters of support, committed the resources of her office to help us move the ball down the field and into the red zone, and personally took the actions that ultimately resulted in the funding of the Quaker Meeting House Road sidewalk project. Without you, Madam President, we would not be here today, and you have my sincerest appreciation for being a dedicated and effective proponent for your senate district and for the entire commonwealth. It is my pleasure to serve with you in the Massachusetts legislature.

19 comments:

  1. This reads like an endorsement of Senate President Therese Murray's campaign for reelection. Was that your specific intent?

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  2. I am thrilled that Sandwich will get funds for the sidewalk project. Thanks to Randy and Senator Murray for all of their efforts to make this happen. It is nice to see politicians work together regardless of party affiliation and do what is right for their district!!

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  3. Randy,

    Do you know the total cost of the project?

    Do you have the amounts that the Commonwealth is granting and how much of the cost will be paid for by the Town?

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    1. The grant is for $960,000, which is the amount it will take to complete the sidewalk from Cotuit Road to Route 6A. The sidewalk is already in place from Cotuit Road to Route 130.

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  4. Randy,

    Thanks for the info.

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  5. Thank you.

    My next question is with the growing number of cyclist and sanctioned races thru Sandwich can something be done about the number of cycylist riding abreast on our roadways, especially the Service Road, 6A etc. It is quite often more than two abreast, especially during a race/fundraiser.

    One solution, under Chapter 85 Section 11B of our General Laws "(3) bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business district when necessary in the interest of safety, unless otherwise directed by local ordinance." Please in the interest of SAFETY for all, can the town designate areas of our town that cyclists MUST use the sidewalks?

    Let's start with Quaker, the current sidewalks are wide enough and smooth enough to accomodate pedestrian's and cyclists. The sidewalks thru Forestdale along Rt 130 are in great condition already. Keep in mind we already had one serious cyclist accident just before the intersection of Snake Pond Road.

    Can the town posts signs saying something along the line of "Cyclists must ride in a single line throughout our town".

    It's just getting very stressful driving/riding in a motor vehicle with the number of cyclists on our roads, who yes under the law "have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the sprecial regulations contained in this section..."

    "A person operating a bicycle on the sidewalk shall yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian."

    All for a nice bike ride, but there is most definitely room for improvement.

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  6. had enough whiningJuly 17, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Great idea! I think we should have taxpayer-funded signs everywhere in Sandwich saying "cyclists must ride in a single line throughout our town." Big signs of course, because who can read it if it's too small? Yep, that'll show 'em.

    (Lady, if driving a motor vehicle is so stressful for ya, do everyone a favor and get off the road.)

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    1. Two things. Signs sound great. Each and every citizen, taxpaying or not, should make their own signs and put them up in three different places, then there would be about 24,000 signs added to the already undocumented signs througout town. Also, why should I get off the road for those on bikes that get in MY way.

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  7. Carl Johansen would state that those walking should have there own right of way as should those biking and driving.

    No side walk is wide enough to accomondate walkers and bikers or for that matter those running and biking.

    The prime example is the service road on both sides of the canal, where those walking or running must share the road with those bikers who think the road is a Indy speedway.

    Those on bikes going at speeds a normal walker or runner cannot get out of the way are seriously hurt every year, more and more.

    Even bikers who use the canal to fish are seriously hurt by these speed demons who think they are in a race .
    Just last week an elderly friend of mine was biking back from a fishing spot and was overtaken by one of the Indy track stars who plowed right into the middle of his bike as he was pedeling along with a basket full of fish and severel rods.
    Both were thrown off his bike and as a result of this collision he just underwent surgery to his ankle that was broken in three places. They had to install a plate to repair his broken ankle.

    His summer is completly over, before it began

    Last year another one of these Indy Bikers seriously injured a mother walking with her children and attempted to ride away from the scen, but was overpowered by local fishermen who watched the whole scene unfold.

    Keep the those biking off the paths where those are walking and running goes on , because in the end it will not be a safe place for anyone

    Bikers should have a flat area ajastent to the road used for cars and trucks, even perhaps a designated area along the break down lane and Indian style is how they should be biking.

    The new path that was just installed at the end of the East End Power plant is insufficient in allowing bikes and walkers to use the same path way and for some to call it a bike way in my opinion is a joke. It is a walk way pure and simple.

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  8. Maybe old people should not walk where it is dangerous.

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  9. Thank you Randy, for your efforts on this project. I'm very pleased to learn that the Quaker Meeting House sidewalk has been funded. As to the other comments, why such animosity towards each other? I walk, run, bike and drive. I can understand the perspective of each side. Why can't we share? A respectful attitude towards everyone and every form of transportation would be great. Like on the water, the right of way goes to the lesser powered vessel. Cars defer to cyclist, and everyone defers to walkers. Remember that the walker, the cyclist, the driver are all humans. Imagine if you hit a cyclist while driving. Think about the impact of your car on flesh and bones of another person. It's not a fight for the road or sidewalk.

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  10. To anonymous 9:07, I to walk, run, bike, and drive. I have a perspective on each use of sidewalks and roads. Cyclists quite often are inconsiderate. While it is legal and for the most part acceptable for bikers to take up in my opinion too much road space, I believe they should not. Often people driving are texting, eating, smoking, looking away from the side of the road, applying make-up. It is easier for these folks to not see a cyclist that another car or even a person crossing the street. I agree with Mr. Johansen about the canal path when he wrote of a friend getting hurt. Just as the cyclist hurt the walker, then so will an automobile somewhere hurt a cyclist. When I cycle, I use sidewalks, out of central districts, of course. If I see people on the sidewalks, I simply get of and walk past them with my bike. I never go into traffic areas at stop lights as many cyclists do and I never ride two, three, and four abreast. When I drive and see these people, I honk my horn and flip them the bird.

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  11. Bird Man of AlcatrazAugust 31, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    So that's what happened to my canary!

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  12. Turns out the Quaker sidewalk is a great success and hats off for helping to make it happen, even though a lot of trees came down, you would almost never know it. So I can't help but be confused by our Representatives objection to what is clearly a benefit to the town as a whole for basically the same thing to happen along the Service Road?
    I understand the objection to the gas line, but if its going to happen regardless why should the town not benefit in some way, such as a free bike path? This would of course be a moot point, had the original state paid for side walk been put in twelve or fifteen years ago, and the trees would probably be back by now. But at the time the Board of Selectmen relented to a few folks on the Service Road objecting to tree cutting, and the town as a whole had to fork out an extra unnecessary $800,000 instead to get the road paved. So much for the needs of the many out weighing the few!
    Sounds like deja vu all over again, as long as a restoration plan is in place, this obviously safer placement of the main off road is a much better plan and should be supported by our Representative for the town as a whole and not just what is basically a special interests group on the Service Road. Can't help but wonder what would happen if this went up as a ballot questions? My guess is we would have a path.

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  13. One may need to see what is being planned for the future of a bike path along the service road, Right after the trees are cut along the 15 foot edge from the street and the line is installed, the service road will have a new bike path. It will be safer then is now the case and hopefully the trees will stay in place to install it. That is unless another not in my back yard delay transpired.

    Carl Johansen

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    1. Lets keep in mind that 7-8 feet along the edge, of most, of the service Rd. is already cleared, so only an additional 7-8 feet is being proposed. This certainly won't effect sound or property values in any way.
      Really wish folks wouldn't spread their misinformation on windshields after church.

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    2. To Carl Johanson. I believe your thoughts as posed in writing and verbally are excellent presentations of the truth in this whole mess of a project. While it is too bad trees must be cut, it must be done for the greatest good.

      As for Mr. Ellis stating that the common in Commonwealth is for the common good, it is not. Common in the word meant "people". The people to me are those who are living next to this project. While you are certainly correct that it is in the common good of the people down cape and ourselves, let us not forget, these people living next to this will be hurt.

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  14. Jason I thank you for your kind words. It may seem that in some cases when one disagrees with those living on the service road that have to deal with some serious issues, that it might be better to relocate the gas line elsewhere. The facts remain that will not be the case, because a decision had been made for us. It is unfortunate that one neighborhood gets the brunt of an economic benefit that may well bring more development here and elsewhere, but that should have been part of the process , prior to moving where they did. Progress comes in many shapes and forms and no neighborhood can and will remain in its original form over time.

    The path is now clear , the trees will be cut, the gas line will be installed and once the work is completed a new transformation will occur along the same path, that will in time be more esthetic to look at, then at present.
    We have a promise that reforestation of the work area will occur to the satisfaction of our Tree Warden and original agreements with those abutters affected by this work of progress, that should become a boon to economic development for us and our adjoining town neighbors.

    Given what the department of transportation has recently done on Route 6 and even though they had a cease and desist order of sorts, they still were cutting down trees as of last night ,[once again in the dark of night]

    They have increased the chances that more accidents will occur along this area[not less] and the levels of sound will increase even more.
    It should be on the Department of transportation to reduce the noise levels along both sides of this highway and the only way that I can see helping is by placing wall barriers as they have done in other parts of the state, when they inflicted higher noise levels on those living near those road ways.

    We might not like the visual looks , but which is worst, what you can see or what you can hear? For those living on the present service road , the visual site as well as the hearing noise levels should remain neutral if it is designed and built with that purpose in mind[All at the expense of our great Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

    Hopefully we will see you at the stand out in Bourne tomorrow, good lord willing

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