TAUNTON — Mayor Shaunna O'Connell said the city plans to upgrade three downtown crosswalks on Main Street to make it safer for people to cross the street.
"Our downtown has a variety of businesses and beautiful open spaces," she said. "We want to invite and attract more people to enjoy this wonderful city area."
The crosswalk improvements on Main Street will be completed at the corners of School, Trescott and Cedar streets.
O'Connell said the upgrades would implement goals from a 2018 Downtown Taunton Improvement Plan which aims to make conditions safer for pedestrians and attract "more foot traffic for our local businesses."
Resident Terry Wilmoth said upgrading the crosswalks would make it safer to cross Main Street, which has steady traffic throughout the day.
"That traffic is dangerous," she said. "When you walk across the street, people drive so fast, and they don't pay attention to what they are doing."
Taunton crosswalk upgrade plans
Taunton Grant Coordinator Taylor J. Torres said the crosswalks would be safer for people to use when "contrasting colors and well-defined edges" are placed on the pavement to alert drivers.
"The goal is to have something visually different like a contrasting color and well-defined edges that will stand out to a driver," he said.
Torres said the crosswalks currently have "only two white lines, and the middle is not colored differently than the road."
"The exact material is yet to be determined," he said.
Pedestrian lights to be installed
Torres said the crosswalks would also be safer for people to use by installing "push activated flashing beacons."
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"When a pedestrian wants to cross, they will push a button which instantly causes yellow beacons to flash, alerting motorists that a pedestrian wants to cross," he said. "This is more visible to a driver and therefore safer for the pedestrians."
Torres said the pedestrian beacons would be "purchased from a vendor on the state bid list under state procurement standards.
The estimated cost of purchase and installation of each signal is $23,000, he said.
Taunton businesses welcome crosswalk plans
Uplifted Nutrition restaurant employee Dylen Tavares said the planned crosswalk improvements at Main and School streets would make it safer for people to access a city outdoor seating plaza on Taunton Green, a road that straddles Taunton Green.
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"I've seen a few people sit there," he said. "There are not as many people as they (city) would like to have."
According to Taunton officials, the seating area is an experiment that is being done to determine if it helps attract customers to downtown businesses.
Tux Towne owner Jose Bejarano said some of his customers had visited the outdoor seating area.
"I'd like to have them (Taunton) put an outside seating area here," said Bejarano, whose shop straddles Main and Cedar streets.
He said the planned improvements to a crosswalk near Tux Towne would likely attract more customers to his store.
"It will be safer for customers," Bejarano said. "I have many people who come here who live in Taunton, Mansfield, Middleboro and Bridgewater."
He said downtown Taunton "is a good atmosphere" for businesses and customers.
"I'd like to see bicycle patrols by police officers here," Bejarano added.
Taunton resident Mike Emond said the crosswalk upgrade plans would strengthen downtown businesses.
"They need businesses in Taunton," he added.
Crosswalk upgrades deadline
According to the grant requirements, Taunton must complete the sidewalk upgrades by Dec. 31, 2023.
Torres said the city's procurement office would secure the necessary materials for this project.
"We do not yet have a specific date for the crosswalk installations, but we will be working to expedite the process," he added.
The improvements will be financed under a $99,000 grant that city officials recently received from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program.
Bejarano said the planned crosswalk improvements prove that O'Connell and other city officials "are on the same page."
"I think the mayor has done a great job," he added.
This article originally appeared on The Taunton Daily Gazette: Taunton: Main Street crosswalk upgrades at School, Trescott and Cedar