456Bicycling advocates show support for MassDOT plan
- Feb 11, 2014The public meetings on the weMoveMassachusetts plan have ended, but comments can still be sent to Scott Hamwey in the MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning, scott.hamwey@....
Bikeway, buses topic of MassDOT public hearingBy Ariel Wittenberg
DARTMOUTH — SouthCoast pedestrians and bicyclists came out in force Monday night to advocate for safer, more convenient transportation.
Members of the state Department of Transportation were at UMass Dartmouth for a public hearing on a proposed capital investment plan that would invest $130 million into bike and pedestrian pathways over the next five fiscal years.
Bonnie DeSouza of Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike Path said she was encouraged to see the state prioritizing "healthy transit."
She said such investments are crucially needed on SouthCoast because "there are no convenient, low-traffic roads connecting towns."
"We are on the verge of having a doable project of connecting our town center to Marion," she said.
She also suggested that the state view bike paths as regional projects, and not make individual municipalities shoulder as much of the costs.
Alan Heureux of the Dartmouth Pathways Committee requested that the state help make bicycling safer in Dartmouth.
Unlike in Mattapoisett, Marion and Fairhaven, where the bikeways are on old rail right of ways and are not on the street, Dartmouth has bike lanes on pre-existing roads that are currently used by cars.
"We need support to keep it safe," he said.
In addition to requesting better bikeways, many present at the meeting cited a need for better bus service, too.
Currently, the Southeast Regional Transit Authority only has night service on nine lines that run in New Bedford and Fall River. That night service is set to expire over the summer. There is currently no Sunday bus service, either.
"We need buses seven days a week, enough is enough," said Edward Luz Jr., of Fall River. "We need transportation, fundamentally. This isn't about what we want, it's what we need."
New Bedford City Planner Jill Maclean was at the meeting representing Mayor Mitchell's administration and also advocated for better bus service.
"This is an investment that is greatly needed, especially because we do not have commuter rail, either," she said. "Service is very limited."