Two Candidates – One Question
The question we presented was;
“Traffic on the North Street overpass has become a regular bottleneck both entering and leaving the City. Do you have any ideas on how to address the problem over the long term?”
Nadine Natasi-Hanscom – Smart Growth And Independent Traffic Studies
As a former member of the Salem Planning Board, I can tell you that there is no quick fix to this problem. Salem needs to have a comprehensive traffic study. While Salem has had many traffic studies done, they have all been funded by developers for their specific developments. Salem needs its own traffic study to identify our city’s traffic problems on a whole and to develop a long range plan to address the problems.
We need to be smarter about our growth. There is only so much that Salem can do regarding the traffic if development continues to rise at the rate that it is.
The North River Corridor /Bridge Street area has five projects that have been approved, but not yet developed. These developments total 564 new units yet to be built. That does not include the Ferris lot property on Franklin Street which is in the planning stages. The Ferris lot project falls under the NRCC which does not allow a left turn from Franklin on to North Street. The residents of this development would only be able to access North Street by using Foster Street or Osborn Street, or to use Moulton Avenue or Walter Street to Dearborn Street. The cut through traffic will greatly affect the neighborhoods in all of these areas, but will also cause further congestion on North Street as residents of this development attempt to take a left on to North Street to go downtown.
All of these developments will add more vehicles and more problems to the North Street overpass. We need to step back, assess the developments that we have and make thoughtful and informed decisions when it comes to addressing the traffic issues on the North Street overpass and all over the city.
Beth Gerard – Walking, Biking And Intra-City Shuttle Service
This is a great question because it’s something that I have been working on for some time, so perhaps this question will spark more interest in people getting out of their cars. Since we can’t widen the road, we’ve been exploring and rolling out several of alternative methods to transportation. I have been fortunate to work with a number of folks around the city on this issue for some time now.
Two summers ago, I walked with Russell Findley from Mass in Motion, Nina Cohen of Walk Boston and Anne Sterling, of the Northfields neighborhood/ Friends of Furlong Park around North Salem and we mapped as well as timed walking routes to the T Station, Bates School and downtown. You can see the results of those efforts in the wayfinding signs that you see around North Salem.
In the Administration and Finance Committee, of which I am chair this year, we had 3 appropriations on this issue come before us this past year:
1. The $35,000 appropriation to start the Zagster bike-sharing program, and in one of our last meetings we also approved a revolving fund to continue the support and funding of the program.
2. Approving the appropriation for a new senior van as well as funding more drivers and routes. In particular, the Council on Aging found that routes to North Salem were lacking, so not only will you see more Senior vans coming here, you will also see another North Salemite driving the vans!
3. We also approved accepting the grant from Tufts to explore and intra-city shuttle to alleviate traffic.
As part of the Zagster program, I’ve been pushing to get stations in North Salem. I succeeded so far in getting two: one by the Greenlawn Cemetery gate at the intersection of Orne and Appleton and one at the T station (which is part of Ward 6). These have been great additions to the Zagster system. In fact, I know of some constituents who will pick up the Zagster at Orne and Appleton and ride it to another Zagster station at either the T station or the Ferry. It’s a great way for getting around!
Plus, if you have your own bike, you can ride it to the commuter rail and park your bike for free in the 2-level bike cage, by registering your Charlie Card. I know several Ward 6ers who do this as part of their commute and like having this option. You can find more information here: http://old.mbta.com/riding_the_t/#bike_parking