Town officials hope to break ground this summer on bicycle and pedestrian improvements along the Washington Street corridor.
Abington this year won a $495,000 grant through the state’s Complete Streets program for some sidewalk improvements and new bicycle lanes.
The Department of Public Works held a lightly attended public information session on the planned work Tuesday evening at Town Hall. The purpose of the Complete Streets grant program is to help communities make important roadways multi-modal, or safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to use, in addition to drivers.
Rebuilding the sidewalks between Lantern Lane and the southern-most entrance to the Beaver Brook Elementary School represents the lion’s share of the work.
The sidewalks through that stretch are in poor condition, not ADA compliant, and lack proper ramps, according to a presentation prepared by the department.
The project will rebuild the sidewalks through the stretch, including new concrete surfaces, ADA compliant ramps, and surface tiles. No land takings are required for the work, DPW Director John Stone said.
Although many stretches of sidewalks in Abington need repair, this area was targeted because of its strategic location near heavily used public gathering areas; it connects the former Frolio School, which still hosts town receational sports as well as the school department’s administrative offices; Memorial Field; the town’s varsity football, baseball, and softball fields; the Beaver Brook Playground; and the Beaver Brook Elementary School. It also connects with Lincoln Boulevard, which underwent pedestrian improvements in 2020 funded through an earlier Complete Streets grant.
The second part of the project involved painting new bike lanes along Washington Street from Abington Center to the Rt. 18 intersection. The bike lanes, however, will vary in size and style due to the road layout.
Washington Street through Abington Center is 47 feet wide and can accomodate separate bike lanes along with vehicle travel lanes and parking spaces, said Benny Hung, an engineer with Environmental Partners. However, the road narrows to about 26 feet most of the way between Col. Hunt Drive and Lincoln Boulevard and isn’t able to accommodate a seperate bike lane. That stretch may feature a street marking called “sharrows,” which indicates vehicles have to share the roadway with bicycles.
“Ideally, you want to have more separation, but there’s only so much we can do,” Hung said. “Sometimes the space doesn’t allow for it.”
The work also calls for new crosswalks connecting the bike lanes to side streets along Washington Street. The grant does not cover the cost of further sidewalk improvements.
Lines for diagonal parking spaces will be added in the former drop-off space in front of the Frolio.
Shawn Reilly, an attorney and the town’s moderator who attended the meeting as a resident, asked whether the new bike lanes will impact parking along Washington Street for home football games and other Memorial Field events.
Stone said his department recently constructed more than 30 new spaces down near the Beaver Brook Playground, and added that there are only a few days a year with events that require parking along Washington Street.
Stone said he expects the put the project out to bid in June with work starting in July.
“Construction will be done after school ends and completed before school comes back,” he said.
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