Sunderland gets $395K Complete Streets grant

  • The intersection of Routes 47 and 116 in Sunderland. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

For the Gazette
Tuesday, October 03, 2017

SUNDERLAND — The town center will soon receive $394,972 in accessibility upgrades to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety.

“The Sunderland Village Center, a heavily utilized corridor in Sunderland, currently lacks vital infrastructure in order to safely move users to their destinations,” a state press statement says about the improvements.

The money was announced Friday as part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Complete Streets program.

Heavy vehicle traffic is brought to the center by local businesses, restaurants, municipal buildings, apartment complexes, the Elementary School, and bus stops for UMass Amherst and the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority. Combined with aging sidewalks and roadways, traffic poses a safety hazard for those walking or cycling.

“There are gaps in the sidewalk network, non-ADA compliant wheelchair ramps, and worn pavement markings that are not easily visible throughout the Town Center,” the statement says.

Notably, the grant money will be used to extend sidewalks at the intersections of South Main Street and River Road, and Garage Road and North Silver Lane. Elsewhere, a sidewalk on Hadley Road will also be extended, and new covered bus shelters with secure areas to lock bikes will be installed on South Main Street.

Grant money will also be used for “crosswalks and other pavement markings,” which will “be installed throughout the Town Center to more clearly delineate and separate modes, such as walking and cycling,” according to the announcement.

While safety is the priority, improvements will better connect pedestrians and cyclists with area public transportation networks.

Sunderland’s allotment is part of a bigger statewide initiative to improve streets. Last September, the Baker-Polito administration gave out $4.4 million to Massachusetts cities and towns. Another $5.5 million was given out in January.

“Our administration is proud to fund these important infrastructure improvements that make our communities safer for families and the traveling public,” said Gov. Charlie Baker in announcing the money. “The Complete Streets program works with our local partners to provide critical investments and upgrades to local roads, trails, and sidewalks, making it easier and safer for those traveling by car, bike, foot or public transit to work, school and other activities.”