Over the past several years city staff, volunteers and partners who make up the Salem For All Ages Task Force have been evaluating and developing multiple programs, projects and services with the goal of establishing additional transportation options as well as improving the overall safety and accessibility for all users traveling in the city. The following is an update of this ongoing work, some of which the city has begun implementing as well as intend to launch later this year.
This past January, city staff working with the consultants from the institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), completed the development of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan which identified and prioritized needed improvements of city programs, services and activities as well as the accessibility of city-owned facilities including City Hall, the Police & Fire Stations, public schools and multiple parks and playgrounds. City Departments have begun addressing the identified improvements in the plan and have received funding in their current fiscal year budgets to continue progress on this effort. Moving forward Department Heads and staff, working in conjunction with the Commission on Disabilities, will track the progress of completed improvements and prioritize how some of the larger items are completed.
The City was recently awarded several grants through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Shared Streets & Spaces Grant Program in conjunction with funding from the Barr and Solomon Foundations. Shared Streets are intended to be quick-build projects to improve local roadways in support of public health and safe mobility for all users including pedestrians and cyclists. City staff, working with consultants, have begun implementation of these projects throughout the city with the goal of reducing vehicle speeds and in some instances volumes in order to provide more space for safer physical distancing and create a sense of place where people feel more comfortable walking and biking. The projects will be monitored to determine their effectiveness and whether more permanent measures be implemented in the future.
In terms of transportation options, the City is close to launching a community car share program later this Fall, which will provide an opportunity for residents who may not own a vehicle to rent one on an hourly basis. Ten Ford Escape Hybrids have been purchased and plans are being finalized to have them strategically located throughout the city and made available to the public to book trips via a web-based platform. The City will be partnering with Getaround to operate the online platform as well as oversee the management and maintenance of the vehicles.
Lastly, city staff are continuing efforts to establish an on-demand rideshare service. Earlier this year the City was awarded a $250,000 grant from MassDOT to assist with the funding. The City has selected Via to provide the service and have been working with them to identify the service parameters which includes the implementation of cleaning procedures and other sanitary measures that are in line with public health recommendations related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
David Kucharsky is the Director of Traffic & Parking for the City of Salem and chair of the Salem For All Ages Transportation sub-committee
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