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September 23, 2016

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Complete Streets Program Grants

Lt. Gov. Polito at podium

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack, Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin, and members of the Legislature announced grant funding from the Complete Streets Program to 11 participating municipalities. A ceremony was held at the Massachusetts State House to distribute funding for the Complete Streets Funding Program.

"We're proud of the efforts our administration has taken to make Massachusetts a better place to live and work, and the Complete Streets Program is another way that we can do that in our neighborhoods and city and town centers," said Governor Charlie Baker. "We also understand that cities and towns know their communities better than anyone, and with the Complete Streets Program, they are empowered to design for the unique needs of their residents, commuters and the traveling public."

"We are very excited to provide municipalities with the first round of funding for the Complete Streets Program," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. "The Complete Streets Program provides municipalities with an opportunity to identify and develop key transportation improvement projects that seek to increase the safety, accessibility, and reliability of multi-modal transportation for residents across the Commonwealth."

A "complete street" is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes and for all people, taking into account the ages and abilities of individuals. The Complete Streets grant funding awards will be used to fund local, multi-modal infrastructure improvement projects, as identified in each municipality’s submitted Complete Streets Prioritization Plan. Examples of projects that can be addressed through the program include improved street lighting, radar speed signage, intersection signalization, new shared bike paths, designated bicycle lanes, ADA/AAB compliant curb ramps, transit signal prioritization, and transit pedestrian connection improvements such as ramps, signage, and new signals at crosswalks.

"MassDOT is pleased to partner with municipalities across the Commonwealth to offer the Complete Streets Program to help communities make much needed transportation improvements," said Transportation Secretary & CEO Stephanie Pollack. "I would like to thank all of the state and local officials, civic and community leaders, and members of the MassDOT staff who have helped to streamline the program, and highlight the need to incorporate ‘complete streets’ into design and planning projects."

The Complete Streets Funding Program was launched on February 1 of this year. To date, 91 municipalities have approved policies and 27 have approved Prioritization Plans. MassDOT has developed a full Complete Streets Funding Program Guidance document that explains the program requirements, model policy guidance and scoring system, and eligible infrastructure. A two way interactive online portal has been developed to guide and assist municipalities through the Policy Development, Prioritization Plan and Project Approval Tiers of the program.

Please visit the Complete Streets Website for additional information.

MassDOT Launches Real Time Traffic Displays in Route 24 Corridor

MassDOT announced the expansion of its Real Time Traffic System (Go-Time) with additional displays along 30 miles of the Route 24 corridor, from Fall River to Randolph.


Note: 15 of these 20 destinations will be displaying travel times, with the remaining 5 coming online as the system build-out is completed this year.

The Real-Time Traffic Information System (Go-Time) is a Bluetooth based system that provides drivers with up to the minute traffic information about how long their commute will be, and promotes reduced congestion and improved air quality by giving drivers a tool to make informed travel decisions.

The travel time system will continue expansion throughout 2016 on a corridor by corridor basis.

When complete, the full system will cover over 700 miles of highway statewide and will have 137 signs displaying travel times to over 300 destinations. MassDOT estimates more than 2.2 million motorists will be able to view the travel time signs on a daily basis. This information will also be available on a mobile app by the end of the year.

MassDOT activated similar displays on Route 3 in Burlington earlier this month, Rt. 140 in the area of Taunton in April 2016 and others in Cape Cod in 2014. In 2013, MassDOT activated temporary signs along portions of Interstate 93, Interstate 90 and Rt. 3.

By the end of the year, additional displays are scheduled to be installed along other parts of Interstate 95, Interstate 495, Rt. 1, Interstate 90 and Interstate 91.

MBTA: New App Helps Blind, Low Vision Customers Find Bus Stops

The MBTA, MassDOT and Perkins School for the Blind launched a new BlindWays app that makes it easier for customers who are blind or have low vision to find bus stops.


"Public transportation provides a vital lifeline for people with disabilities to access employment, education, healthcare, other critical services and amenities," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. "That is why I am proud that MassDOT and the MBTA are partners with the Perkins School for the Blind on this worthwhile effort to deploy technology to help meet the needs of all of the T’s customers."

"Being able to access public transportation reliably allows individuals with disabilities to live independently within their communities," said MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. "The MBTA welcomes any opportunity to strengthen our ability to provide that service."

Today's commercially available GPS leaves a traveler within a 30-50 foot radius of their destination, which is a short-distance navigational challenge, often referred to as the "last 50 feet of frustration." Imagine the frustration of hearing a bus approach and then listening as it drives right by you, simply because you were standing in the wrong place. For people who are blind or have low vision, this is a common occurrence that can mean missing a job interview, a medical appointment, or the chance to socialize with friends.

Despite accessible smartphones and navigation app improvements, pedestrians who are blind or have low vision still face challenges when navigating to public transportation. Perkins School for the Blind's app aims to erase that "50 feet of frustration" – called micronavigation – when it comes to finding bus stops. Perkins developed the iPhone app that helps people who are blind or have low vision locate MBTA bus stops via crowdsourced landmark clues and provide predictive bus arrival information.

"BlindWays is just one example of how Perkins is focused on developing innovative solutions for more people," said Dave Power, President and CEO of Perkins School for the Blind. "We are proud to have worked closely with the MBTA to help people who are blind or have low vision find their bus stops and travel more independently."

The success of BlindWays depends on crowdsourcing, users who volunteer to contribute the clues about the approximately 7,800 bus stops throughout the MBTA system. Anyone with an iPhone and a desire to create a more inclusive community for people who are blind or have low vision can make a difference by downloading the BlindWays app for free from the App Store. With a few taps on the app, people who use or pass by MBTA bus stops every day can easily contribute information about surrounding landmarks.

The project is funded with help from a grant. The $750,000 grant was awarded through the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities.

Needham: Kendrick Street Ramps Open

MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack joined federal, state, and local officials at a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the Kendrick Street Ramps, a major milestone for the larger I-95 Add-A-Lane Project.


The project is reconstructing approximately 3.5 miles of I-95 mainline between a point just south of the Kendrick Street Bridge to one just north of the Route 9/I-95 interchange. The goal of the project is to increase safety on the mainline by adding a travel lane. The project will also reconstruct the following bridges to accommodate the widened I-95 mainline and/or new ramp connections: Kendrick Street over I-95; Highland Avenue over I-95; Central Street over I-95; and I-95 over Route 9.

This project will improve safety along I-95 from just south of Kendrick Street to just north of the Interstate 95/Route 9 interchange and includes the replacement of several bridges, the creation of new collector/distributor roads, and the reconfiguration of the interchange at Route 9.

For those bridges which pass over I-95, multimodal connectivity has also been taken into account with new bicycle accommodations a part of the project at Kendrick Street and Highland Avenue. At Kendrick Street these connections are already open and have been praised by local cyclists as useful and helpful.

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