en English
en Englishes Spanishpt Portuguesear Arabicht Haitian Creolezh-TW Chinese (Traditional)


Your Local Online News Source for Over 3 Decades

State plans a makeover for Bennington Street

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has been crafting a statewide bicycle path network to protect and increase ridership, reduce carbon emissions and traffic and promote public health. MassDOT reps have been visiting cities and towns with project designs, and this week Revere was on their schedule.

  MassDOT Engineer and Senior Planner Michael Trepanier presented the agency’s draft design for a Bennington Street targeted Safety Improvements pilot between the Suffolk Downs and Beachmont T stops. MassDOT is planning a pilot project that will cut Bennington Street from four lanes to two lanes, one lane travelling in each direction. The space will be used to create a buffered two-way bike lane; the grass corridor and sidewalk will remain, but parking on Bennington Street will be reduced. “The first and foremost priority is to improve safety and reduce speed,” Trepanier told the City Council.

  According to traffic surveys, 75 percent of drivers speed on Bennington Street where, Trepanier said, it’s comfortable to speed. Trepanier stressed Bennington Street will still have 11-foot-wide traffic lanes in both directions, but pedestrian crossings will be shorter and traffic will flow. Trepanier said traffic surveys show that 10.6 thousand vehicles travel on Bennington Street each day. Approximately five bicycles an hour use the road.

  City councillors seemed doubtful that the change would benefit Revere. Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna was particularly concerned about how the changes would impact her neighborhood of Beachmont. She also questioned the lack of community involvement in the proposed redesign. “My biggest problem is Revere and Winthrop have not had any public meetings about this,” McKenna told Trepanier. “You need transparency. We need public meetings so people know what you’re doing.”

  But McKenna seemed already sure of the outcome of the pilot. “You’re going to paralyze Beachmont,” she said, adding that Bennington Street is the evacuation route for the neighborhood.

  McKenna was also concerned that traffic would back up and drivers would cut through the surrounding neighborhood to avoid getting stuck in a long line of cars. “The answer is not to take away two lanes of traffic,” McKenna told Trepanier. “If you want to slow down traffic, get the police involved. That’s a simple answer.”

  Ward 5 Councillor John Powers felt installing more bike lanes would open the door to more serious traffic accidents. “Before bike lanes, we need to get traffic off our highways, and the only way to do that is with public transportation,” he said, adding that bike lanes might get one or two cars off the road.

  Trepanier agreed but said more cyclists may be inclined to travel by bike if they felt safer in a dedicated bike lane.

  City Council President Gerry Visconti also questioned the reasoning behind the pilot. “I’m trying to understand what’s broken that needs to be fixed,” he said.

  Visconti suggested using the sidewalk instead of two traffic lanes to create a bike lane. “A bike lane can be created; we can still have the sidewalk and the two lanes,” he said. “It’s like you want to create traffic to slow it down.”

  Councillors were also concerned about how long a pilot program would last and whether it would become permanent without community feedback. Trepanier said the safety improvements were designed so they could be removed easily if they don’t yield the anticipated improvements. He also said that technically MassDOT has jurisdiction over this part of Bennington Street and the safety improvements don’t need City Council approval to move forward.

Contact Advocate Newspapers