By Kim Siebert MacPhail
Although the scope of the Transportation Advisory Committee’s (TAC) purpose is broader than merely recommending where sidewalks should be constructed, it wasn’t until last week’s meeting that TAC began to hone in on some of the larger issues it has been directed to address—such as how to “expand the use of non-automobile based methods of local and regional transportation” and how to “improve traffic circulation and availability of transportation services.”
To provide a framework for this next phase of its work, TAC Chair Bob Dorer wrote a memo to the Selectmen and Town Manager Rick Reed saying “[TAC] realize[s] it may be time to more fully integrate sidewalk planning into the rest of the town’s infrastructure strategic planning so that sidewalks are automatically on the table for consideration as the town looks to manage, build upon, and maintain its varied transportation assets into the future. We see the current ‘Healthy Bedford’ initiative and energy behind it as another driver in developing a more holistic view of transportation options for the citizens of (and those who shop, work, or just visit) Bedford.”
With this turn toward a broader range of issues, the primary focus of TAC’s July 25 meeting was an open discussion of what transportation subjects the Committee looks to address in the next 12-18 months.
At the meeting, Margot Fleischman, the Selectmen’s liaison to TAC, said that “people are talking about transportation demand management more than they used to and recognizing that there are regional transportation problems that need to be solved that we might be a part of.”
TAC members noted that a combination of various road improvement and transportation projects—such as the Middlesex 3 business development coalition, the Great Road Master Plan, and the Planning Board’s work on the Town’s Comprehensive Plan—provide leverage points for collaborative efforts to improve transportation.
With this in mind, TAC created the following list of possible action items for the next one to one and a half years:
- Prioritize a list of additional sidewalks desired, to increase pedestrian safety and connectivity;
- Develop recommendations to address parking solutions that could increase the use of non-automobile-based transportation;
- Coordinate with the Planning Board with regard to the transportation element within the Town’s Comprehensive Plan that is now being developed;
- Examine how to connect to already existing public transit routes; and
- Expand in-town local transit options.
Outside sources of funding and technical assistance were discussed, which TAC will look into as discussions continue.
To learn about the Middlesex 3 Coalitions, of which Bedford is a part, visit: https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2013/06/18/middlesex-3-regional-development-group-assesses-first-year/
To see the current Great Road Master Plan document, see: https://www.vhb.com/thegreatroad/
The latest Comprehensive Plan is a work in progress and not yet posted. To become familiar with the concepts behind master planning and the Master Plan document of 2002 now being updated, visit: https://www.bedfordma.gov/planning/pages/comprehensive-plan