SAUGUS — A $1.5 million state grant for the Northern Strand Community Trail could be used to improve roads crossings along the path.
In light of a recent accident in which an elderly couple were walking on the trail and were struck by a car, Planning Board chairman Peter Rossetti said he would like to see additional signs with flashing lights installed where the rail trail crosses major roads.
“They were injured and narrowly survived,” said Rossetti. “One of the suggestions, as part of an open space plan, is for better signage so this won’t happen in the future. That’s a primary concern. Something to make it a little more reflective for walkers would be a good thing.”
Town Planner Krista Leahy said she has met with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental affairs about using some of the $1.5 million grant funding announced last month to implement other safety measures.
The Baker-Polito Administration announced a commitment of at least $1.5 million to fund designs for the trail in Everett, Lynn, Malden, Revere, and Saugus in February.
Representatives from each of the communities have discussed installing the same signs to maintain consistency along the seven-mile trail, but adding flashing signs or pedestrian lights is also on the table, she said.
“One of the craziest things is that Saugus has six crossings,” said Leahy. “The one at Anna Parker (Playground) is just so long and it’s kind of a blind curve.”
The conversation about using the money for signs and lights is very preliminary, said Stephen Winslow, president of Bike to The Sea. The organization is working to extend the Northern Strand Community Trail from the Charles River to the Lynn waterfront. Each community along the seven-and-a-half mile trail will have meetings in the next three to six months to come up with a list of ideas to contribute.
The fist concern will be creating a cohesive design for the trail, said Winslow, including paving the sections in Revere, Saugus, and Lynn, and using consistent signage to let users know they are still on the same path.
While Saugus is not a gateway city, it is benefitting from the program because it is surrounded by gateway cities and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs wants to keep the trail design consistent, said Winslow.
Saugus recently painted some crosswalks, but this is an opportunity to take another look at what the crossing are, he said.
“We want the crossings to be thoughtful and safely laid out,” he said. “I haven’t seen what the engineers are going to propose, but certainly making the crossings safe is always important. It’s very important that people have a safe experience on the trail. That’s certainly what we want. And for motorists too to know that kids and families might be crossing.”