Northampton Rearranges Its Main Street to Prioritize Foot Traffic
The Pioneer Valley city of Northampton is leveraging a $200,000 MassDOT Shared Streets and Spaces grant to dramatically redesign the city’s Main Street with new protected bike lanes, expanded sidewalks and outdoor seating areas, and public art.
“With this funding, the Commonwealth is actively supporting Northampton’s ability to complete enhancements to Main Street that create safe shared and open spaces that enhance socially distanced enjoyment by pedestrians, bicyclists, visitors, and people who want to shop downtown,” wrote the office of Mayor David Narkewicz in a press release about the project.
Northampton’s Main Street is unusually wide – roughly 90 feet wide from one curb to the other – and for decades, most of that public space has been dedicated to cars, with extra-wide driving lanes and angled on-street parking.
Over the past few days, though, city crews have moved concrete barriers and roughly one hundred planters into the middle of Main Street’s asphalt to delineate generous new public spaces for protected bike lanes and expanded sidewalk zones, which have taken over the former angled parking areas.
Mayor Narkewicz has been proudly documenting the progress on Twitter:
City staff, community volunteers, and local artists have been hard at work today beautifying our new Shared Streets and Spaces downtown Main Street layout with planters, flowers, signage, and public art. #NorthamptonMA pic.twitter.com/KDIBIQZZHD
— David Narkewicz (@MayorNarkewicz) August 21, 2020
These changes are temporary, and are expected to be in place only through November. However, the City is also undertaking a longer-term planning effort to redesign Main Street, and this project, if successful, could influence the outcome.
The city is conducting an online survey to collect public feedback in the meantime.