Eyes On the Street: Chelsea’s Produce Distribution Corridor Gets Much Needed Bike and Ped Upgrades
Chelsea – Pedestrians and bicyclists can now walk and roll along a brand new bike path and sidewalk on Beacham and Williams Street – a far cry from the corridor’s previous degrading asphalt conditions.
Although the project area, Mulberry Street to the city’s western border, is surrounded by a number of large employers, no bus route serves this corridor.
Anyone without access to a car who works at one of the many produce distribution facilities along Beacham and Williams Streets had no choice but to walk or ride a bike down what seemed like no man’s land; a road with fading markings, no separation from traffic, and asphalt that blended into the uneven dirt shoulders:
On the north side, the updated corridor features a new six-foot sidewalk while the south side offers a mixed-use pathway dotted with young trees wrapped in green plastic bags at the base for protection.
Even though the City of Chelsea announced the project’s completion in a tweet last Thursday, some items are still in the works, but are expected to be finalized in the coming months.
At several spots along the bike pathway people must navigate around utility poles, but the city has a plan and is on schedule to relocate the poles closer to the curb, allowing for a clear, unobstructed path by early next year.
“All new poles have been installed and are awaiting completion of overhead wire transfer prior to removal of existing poles in the pathway. The overhead utility providers are actively working to transfer wire to new poles. Once transfer is complete, the poles in the middle and at the backside of the pathway will be removed,” Jeffrey Melomo, Senior Project Engineer with Weston & Sampson, the firm contracted by the City, told StreetsblogMASS over email last Thursday.
Additionally, people traveling down the corridor who may want to stop for a snack at the Dunkin’ Donuts across the road will need to take extra care as no crosswalk is available.
While a mid-block crosswalk was considered during the project’s early design stages, it ultimately didn’t make it to the final design, “due to the heavy freight traffic in the area, particularly here with the nearby entrance to the produce center,” explained Melomo.
Currently, the pedestrian and bicycling amenities end at the border of Everett and Chelsea, where the raised separated path downgrades to an unprotected painted bike lane along crumbling asphalt lots. The poor condition of the lane is particularly noticeable during rainy days when bicyclists also must navigate puddles while cars zip by their side:
Jay Monty, Transportation Planner for the City of Everett told StreetsblogMASS on Tuesday, October 11, that design is already underway and “Beacham Street in Everett will be getting the same treatment. It’s currently programmed on the TIP (Transportation Improvement Plan) for FY2025.”