$323K grant secures funding for project to make downtown Lenox safer for pedestrians, cyclists

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LENOX — Main Street in the downtown historic village will sport a new look by next summer, designed to enhance pedestrian and bicyclists' safety.

A $323,000 state grant awarded to the town will finance the project, said Land Use Director and Town Planner Gwen Miller, who wrote the successful application for the funds.

The state's Complete Streets program offers funding to local towns that submit plans to enhance safety "so everybody can be safe and comfortable while using the roads," Miller explained at a recent Select Board meeting.

Main Street was pinpointed as a trouble spot, she said, because "it's really hard for drivers to see pedestrians," especially motorists speeding down the hill entering downtown from the north.

Miller also cited an urgent need for a crosswalk at the intersection of Old Stockbridge Road and West Street (Route 183) just below Town Hall and adjacent to the war monument.

The project will yield three raised, paved crosswalks on Main Street and another across Old Stockbridge Road. Each will have grass-filled curb extensions with granite edging to help pedestrians see approaching vehicles, while also enhancing drivers' ability to spot them.

The new crosswalks will extend across Main Street at the town library, the post office at the Village Center plaza and at Franklin Street connecting two BRTA bus stops, where there will be a flashing signal activated by pedestrians.

New signage will alert motorists to the raised crosswalks.

During design of the project, the town's police and fire chiefs were consulted to ensure there would be no impediments for firetrucks and ambulances.

DPW snowplows will be able to navigate smoothly for snow removal because the crosswalks will be no more than 3 inches high and gently sloped, said Public Works Superintendent William Gop.

The two-month construction is slated for next spring just ahead of the busy tourist season, Gop said.

"Main Street is going to look a little different," Selectman Edward Lane said, "but it's going to be very, very safe, and that's the entire goal. We've been dodging bullets for many years as far as people crossing Main Street, so it will be worth penny."

Selectman David Roche congratulated Miller for winning the state grant, "a real feat."

The project will go out to bid soon, she said. The design can be examined on the town website, townoflenox.com.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.

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