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Peabody officials drop plan to reverse traffic direction on Littles Lane

Posted by Justin Rice  September 13, 2011 05:34 PM

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Peabody officials shelved a proposal to reverse traffic on the one-way Littles Lanes after public outcry during a community meeting last month.

During the Aug. 22 forum to present the latest version of the $1.5 million Main Streets Corridor project, residents complained that changing the traffic direction on Littles Lane, which is currently a one way street out to Main Street, would cause more cut-through traffic.

During another meeting on the corridor project last night at Torigian Community Life Center, a design that is closer to the finished product was presented to the public. It did not include the Littles Lane proposal, according to City Planner Nate Jones. 

“The proposal for Littles Lane all along has not been an integral part of corridor plan,” Jones said. “We put the original change in to meet the requests of some constituents that through outreach we had heard if we change the direction it would be something residents would appreciate and prefer.

“When we unveiled the plan and heard overwhelming opposition we decided we could no longer undertake it.”

The proposal to redevelop Main Street from Peabody Square to the Salem line would decrease traffic lanes from four to two, revamp sidewalks and crosswalks, and make the roads more pedestrian friendly with new medians.

Last night’s version of the plan added two loading zones for businesses and more landscaping, including faux -brick pavers between the road and sidewalks that will allow the roots of 75 new trees to grow underneath the sidewalk.

“That will reduce buckling of the sidewalks,” Jones said. “The trees will mirror the old growth trees the corridor had a number of years ago if you look at old photographs.”

Residents still remain concerned about traffic, parking and safety, Jones said.

“But we showed a traffic simulation to show how the new design will not only handle today’s volume but the volume in 10 years from now, which is expected to grow by a half percent per year," he said. "The new design is expected to make traffic flow run more smoothly than it is today.”

This week the city is applying for a $1.5 million state grant to fund the project. State officials will inform the city if their grant was approved by the end of next month. If state funding doesn’t come through Jones said the project will not be delayed.

“Our plan is to continue to seek alternative means of funding,” he said. “If necessary there are multiple other grant programs and funding opportunities though the state and federal governments that we can continue to pursue if they come available.”

The final plan will be presented to city council on Sept. 22 before they vote on the project that same night. The council has to approve the plan before it can go forward.

“We feel extremely confident after the presentation that we will receive a positive vote,” Jones said.  “We have been consistently making adjustments and edits that meet the councilors' concerns and we will continue to do so.”

Justin A. Rice can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com.

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