NEWBURYPORT — The city will hold a public meeting Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. in City Hall Auditorium to initiate the development of a Complete Streets Project Prioritization Plan.
In January, the City Council adopted the Complete Streets policy, which was implemented by the state Department of Transportation to give municipalities guidelines for their infrastructure plans and make streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.
The program rewards communities that put its policies and practices in place by funding technical help to analyze needs, develop a prioritization plan and build infrastructure projects. It has been adopted by many Massachusetts cities and towns.
A “complete street” is one designed to provide and encourage safe options for all users and travel modes so that pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities can move safely and comfortably on a street along with motorists, according to MassDOT.
Designing streets with these principles for travel between home, school, parks, stores, work and other destinations contributes to the quality of life in a community as well as public safety, health and economic viability.
In general, Newburyport’s transportation network is dominated by motor vehicles, and city officials have begun in recent years to focus on a more balanced approach. As noted in the policy, city officials are taking a network approach that prioritizes transportation infrastructure projects that will connect important destinations and address streets with known safety problems.
The Department of Transportation established the Complete Streets Funding Program in 2016, requiring communities to establish project prioritization plans to be eligible to apply for construction funding of up to $400,000. Newburyport received a $35,000 grant from the state to hire a consultant to develop the required plan and recently contracted with TEC Inc. to prepare the proposal.
Senior project manager Geordie Vining said a TEC representative will give a presentation on the project at the meeting Thursday. Residents will break into small groups with city officials to mark up maps of the city and discuss priorities for potential projects.
“The plan is to identify at least 15 or so projects and put them in some basic rank order,” Vining said. “We’re trying to work on it over the next three months and then apply for some funding from the state to support at least one of them.”
City officials hope to finalize the plan in the spring to meet the deadline to apply for state grant funding, according to a press release from the Newburyport Planning Office.
The city will likely host another public meeting in late January to review the plan that was developed.
For more information, contact Vining at 978-465-4400, ext. 6.
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.