Sunday, 11 April 2010

Paving the way ahead for walkers?

Route 6A in Brewster and the Brewster Store
Picture credit:

I read in my news from Brewster, Budleigh Salterton's sister-community on Cape Cod, that they want to make it "look like a walking village" with what they call sidewalks and what we know in the UK as pavements or footpaths. The Main Street, otherwise known as Route 6A or, more appealingly to British readers as The Old King's Highway, could be re-surfaced.

Now I've never been to Brewster, but I know enough about it to suspect that the town authorities would welcome the chance to make this attractive East Coast resort more tourist-friendly and safer for pedestrians.

Budleigh people also would like to see improvements in its facilities for those who just happen to be on two feet rather than on four wheels, and every so often there's a breakthrough. The mums and dads on East Budleigh Road, for example, led a successful campaign to persuade Devon County Council to widen the narrow footpath which had been putting them and their children at risk from speeding traffic every time they ventured out.

But generally in the town there are still places where "the car has been allowed to rule the street scene," as the excellent Budleigh Salterton Town Design Statement pointed out in 2004.
There is, so the Statement observed, "a general lack of thought for pedestrians in a town where a large proportion of the population are retired and need/wish to walk."

"This is particularly noticeable on West Hill, which is a significant pedestrian route but has no pavement," notes the TDS.
Speeding traffic in this area of Budleigh is a notorious problem as you can see elsewhere on this site
The number of ramblers in particular on this major route into the town make it an obvious spot where a serious injury or fatality is likely to occur.
Road signs warn drivers of the danger but are not much help when they are hidden by vegetation, especially in the summer holiday months.
Were Budleigh Salterton ever to apply for something like the 'Walkers are Welcome' scheme run by the Ramblers' Association, the West Hill death-trap would certainly be noted as a negative.

It's all a matter of money I suppose. A medical friend told me the other day that a factor in deciding on road improvements, in the minds of local authorities, is the cost of a traffic-calming scheme weighed against the cost of injuries or death in lawsuits against County Councils.

Brewster hopes for sidewalks
In every paving there lies opportunity.

That’s the belief of the Brewster selectmen. Route 6A has not been resurfaced since 1983 but federal stimulus money has got the state dreaming of a new asphalt surface over 7.78 miles (41,112 feet) of the highway that winds through Brewster. This wouldn’t happen until the spring of 2012.

“This is a really great opportunity. Obviously stimulus money is available to do this project,” Town Administrator Charles Sumner noted.

The opportunity is for Brewster to request the Department of Transportation to build additional sidewalks and renovate what already exists, to go along with the paving.

In accordance the selectmen this week voted 4-0 (Ed Lewis was absent) to write and ask Bernard McCourt of the DOT to build the sidewalks while Brewster would maintain, sweep, remove snow and make no assessments to any abutters. The desired sidewalks would cover most of Route 6A from the Drummer Boy Museum east to just beyond Laurino’s Tavern.

The state doesn’t want to deal with any wetlands issues so some portions of the road will be skipped.

The first goal is to connect the Drummer Boy Museum to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. That’ll take some pressure off the Nature Museum’s parking lot.

Beyond that there are wetlands issues all through the Stony Brook Valley and the culvert under Paines Creek Road prevents a link between the Luke’s Liquor Plaza and Lemon Tree Village.
It should be possible to build a sidewalk between Brier Lane and Tubman Road. Existing sidewalks through the center of town could be upgraded.

The largest new stretch would be between on the south side from Underpass Road to the Bayside Market and then on the north side from the Ocean Edge mansion past Cape Cod Sea Camps to Crosby Lane. At the crosswalk there the sidewalk could cross over to Nickerson State Park and continue to Laurino’s and perhaps on the Holly Avenue.

“This could really make the business area look like a walking village and could lead to some defined parking area,” noted police Chief Richard Koch.

The town should know by the end of April if the sidewalk project is a go.

By Rich Eldred
Reprinted with permission from The Cape Codder newspaper

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