Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Salem’s Last Road: Its Progress, Twenty Weeks Later (Part 2)

Last post, I mentioned the problem MassHighway made for itself with the bikepath on the bypass road.  Now my other peeve:  Audible pedestrian signals

The Commission met with Sue Cranney almost three years ago, and she was receptive to installing the newer Polara talking signals already at other locations in Salem.

MassHighway installed the Polara signals at North St., but not at St. Peter St. as we requested.   Technically, the bell signal that’s there is in compliance, so there’s nothing we can do.

But I and the Commission are still very disappointed.  When we meet with someone and convince them to provide access for people with disabilities, and show them how they can provide access, we don’t expect to have to get every little concession in writing.  We can’t lawyer up on everything.   (Though Jack has written documentation and minutes on all of this.)

We had Ms. Cranney’s word and we gave her the benefit of the doubt.  These talking signals would have been much better for pedestrians and neighbors than bells and buzzers are now. ( Bob Moran wondered if the speakers for the Polara signals are up above the street.  They are not.  They are in the same housing that the pedestrian button is, at street level where pedestrians can hear them.  And they adjust for ambient noise so they are not loud at night.)

In addition, the Polara signal buttons don’t freeze in cold weather, unlike older signals, and I am told, they are cheaper to maintain.

They are more expensive than other signals and no doubt a beancounter at MassHighway was behind this;  in today’s economy, one cannot expect a lot of sympathy to our desires.

However, we could still get our signal.  The Commission is working with Dave Knowlton, our city engineer, and he is receptive to installing the Polara signal.  But the project, pending the MAAB hearing, is still controlled by the state;  the city hasn’t taken over the road and bikepath yet.

If I and the Commission only get this done in 2009, it will be a good thing.

Next installment of Salem’s Last Road:  How Salem changed with the road.

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