Marion studying pedestrian safety

Mar 10, 2022

MARION — A pedestrian advisory group, led by Town Administrator Jay McGrail, is exploring ways to make walking and biking safer in town. 

At the request of select board member John Waterman, the group was formed to first look at traffic issues in the village section of town, specifically in the area of Tabor Academy to Main Street, McGrail said.

The effort then spread, McGrail noted, to the Converse and Point roads area.

Representatives from Tabor Academy, Marion Police Lt. Jeff Habicht and Town Engineer Meghan Davis are also involved in the study. 

The select board has hired an engineering firm, GPI Engineering, which has locations throughout the East Coast and Midwest. The company will collect data, including speed analysis, and offer ideas for long-term solutions for improving pedestrian safety.

Tabor has agreed to pay half the cost of the study, which McGrail said will help the town tackle the issue in a more financially prudent manner. 

Tabor Academy is located on Front Street in the village area and students frequently cross area streets to travel between buildings, a concern 

The village section of town is aging, McGrail said, and includes many features that residents walk to, including the post office and general store. But the sidewalk there is small.

A car driving by at 25 miles per hour, which falls within the speed limits, can nonetheless feel “really fast when you’re two feet away from the vehicle.’’ 

Although the area hasn’t logged a lot of accidents, McGrail noted, “it’s a concern.’’

Lowering the speed limit in the village is one option under consideration. Creating raised sidewalks and adding stop signs are two additional possibilities, he said.

All of these issues will be flushed out after the study is done, McGrail said.

Studying the traffic issue dovetails with an ongoing infrastructure project at the Front Street area that involves upgrading the sidewalk there and making improvements to sewer and water mains.

This project will likely take four to five years to complete, he said, and represents “our opportunity to make permanent changes and take into consideration pedestrian safety.’’

Whatever the pedestrian safety group decides will then be brought before the select board and the public before any final determinations are made, McGrail said.