The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MAssDOT) announced $16.4 million for 184 new awards to 138 municipalities and seven Regional Transit Authorities through the Shared Streets and Spaces Program. Five of the awards are specifically geared towards supporting older adults while many more will provide benefits to people of all ages.
The program provides technical assistance and project funding to help Massachusetts cities and towns design and implement changes to curbs, streets, and parking areas in support of public health, safe mobility, and community growth and revitalization. This round of funding placed particular emphasis on two new types of projects: those to reduce vehicle speeds in order to increase safety, and those to purchase equipment needed to improve and maintain infrastructure for active transportation.
The program has been awarding bonus points for projects that support older adults, which include infrastructure linked to councils on aging/senior centers, affordable senior housing and other facilities used by older residents. Projects also include benches and accessibility considerations.
The five projects focused on older adults include the following:
- The Cape Ann Transit Authority, in partnership with Rockport, Gloucester, Ipswich, and Essex, received $302,937.17 to install shelters, benches, and schedule signage for fixed and seasonal routes that serve students, tourists, residents, and seniors.
- Cummington received $31,802.00 to upgrade a crosswalk with high-visibility striping and new ADA-compliant curb ramps in front of Community House/Church and Hillside Terrace Senior Housing on Main Street.
- Hatfield received $56,641.52 to install eight solar-powered button-activated flashing crosswalk signals along two main arteries in town and to extend a sidewalk at the Campawonk elderly housing complex.
- Holyoke received $200,000.00 to install raised crosswalks along with RRFBs at three locations that are heavily used by children and seniors and where vehicles travel at high speeds.
- Sharon received $73,340.00 to install the town’s first bikeshare system, with one location at the MBTA Commuter Rail station and another at the community center/senior center.
This grant round also offered municipalities a new opportunity to apply for grants for up to $50,000 to purchase equipment to support active transportation. Eligible items include such things as snow removal equipment for pedestrian and bicycle facilities, speed feedback signs, pedestrian-activated warning devices such as Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB), and bicycle lane delineators.