Thursday, August 27, 2009

Salem’s Last Road is 1 Year Old!

I’ve been too busy to recognize a recent anniversary:  The Bypass Road is one year old!  I’ve written about the road, and photographed it too. 

John Keenan considers it a success:

"I think overall the bypass road has been a great success in terms of diluting the traffic on Bridge Street," said state Rep. John Keenan. "There are still issues with noise and motorcycles — I can hear them from my backyard as well. But overall, I think it's been a big success."

But Rob Liani, owner of the Coffee Time Bake Shop is less sure:

Business has remained about the same, but Liani is particularly bothered by what he considers poor signage on the Salem-Beverly bridge that fails to direct drivers to Bridge Street. One of the big green signs simply tells motorists that a left turn will take them to "Swampscott 1A" without mentioning Bridge Street, Salem Willows or Pickering Wharf.

The state has been obstinate on this point.

There haven’t been as many accidents as I’ve feared.  A reckless motorcyclist crashed running away from the cops.  I worried about kids at the Jefferson complex being hit;  no pedestrian accidents have happened that I know of.

At the end of last year, when the road had been open for several months, I noted that it split the Bridge St. neighborhood in three parts.  That hasn’t changed.  The triangular greenspace at St. Peter St. now is the focal point of three distinct neighborhoods.  (Little wonder that I don’t want to see it be a parking lot.)

The one thing we haven’t gotten yet is new talking signals for people with disabilities at St. Peter St. (or, indeed, on all of Bridge St.)

The bell-sounding audible signal at St. Peter, adjusted for being too loud at the Jefferson, is now all but inaudible.  The bell signal at Washington & Bridge is also inaudible;  I can’t remember the last time I really heard it, and I use that intersection several times a week.

The Commission on Disabilities has been waiting for the MAAB and MassHighway to finish feuding over accessibility on the bikeway/walkway before asking the city engineer to purchase and install a new pedestrian signal. 

I wish we hadn’t waited on that.  Originally, our thought was that we wanted this dispute handled by the state,  To protect the city from liability, we advised the city not to take ownership of the road until it was settled.

The city, apparently, has already taken over responsibility for the roadway, and the matter between MAAB and MassHighway is still unresolved.  (Still very much unknown is how the state’s proposed massive reorganization of transportation departments will affect this and the Bridge St. project.)

And we still don’t have our talking pedestrian signals downtown, at a place where we really need them, with the new courthouse going up and Salem Depot with its heavy pedestrian traffic.

The road is still not named:

Mayor Kim Driscoll proposed officially naming it the "North River Greenway" last year, but city councilors opted instead to hold a citywide naming contest.


The naming contest seems to be on hold for now. The council doesn't have the matter scheduled for any of its upcoming meetings.

The council should just hand it over to the Mayor to name.  They can’t do it.  They can’t decide anything.  Perhaps it can be the “Sosnowski Byway” or the “Nathaniel Hawthorne Highway for Historic Property Owners”.

1 comment:

Rick said...

The Sonsnowski Byway - that's funny! Thanks for the update and always a chuckle. Good luck with your renovations.