Proposed redesign for Marion’s Gateway
To the Editor:
Marion Village is accessed primarily by Front St. South of I-195 at Exit 20, crossing US Route 6 (also called MA Rt. 105). The main intersection region of Front St. and Rt. 6 with surrounding streets is known as the “Gateway” to Marion. Our desire now is to update the Gateway by reconfiguring Route 6 to improve connectivity across, and improve safety on Rt 6, plus add a bike/intermodal lane, all within the existing curb width. We believe there is an economical, effective and practical solution that could appeal to MA DOT, which has not yet been included in the studies recently presented in Marion. This would also include much-needed updated sidewalks, improving safety and appearance. Plus, we can address special concern and relief for traffic entering or leaving Rt. 6 businesses.
We have proposed a three-lane layout with two travel lanes, central left-turn-only lane, and intermodal (“bike”) lane on the village side, but only in the central Rt 6 Gateway area of Marion, starting at Ryder Lane, eastbound by Spring Street and a signalized Front St., continuing over the hill and descending to Creek Rd. The bike lane would then meet up with the Creek Rd. bikeway and beyond into east Marion, This intermodal connection was also identified as an important need in the recent Marion Master Plan. At Front St., the central lane would be a signalized left turn lane, greatly improving safety there and adding room for possible small island areas for pedestrian relief. The remainder of Rt. 6 would remain the same, but of course all drains and pavements would be repaired and restored to permit smooth travel near the edges, which is not the case now in most areas. This would divert fast-moving traffic to the center lane.
This three-lane layout would allow all three lanes to be wider than the present ones, also eliminating very close opposing traffic in the center as at present. Also, this would allow a more than six foot bike lane, and increased setbacks of the sides from the curbs. (This is similar to central Mattapoisett but with standard lane widths, allowing the bike lane.) These features received support by several attendees at the recent well-attended Rt. 6 meeting in the Marion Sippican School. They felt that a generous, well-marked bike lane on the pavement would be safe, and a major improvement.
There would be appropriate transitions at each end, and significantly address the present “no warning” and inadequate sightlines of close, fast-moving traffic for vehicles attempting to enter Rt. 6 from adjacent businesses, especially in the curve between Ryder Lane and Front. St.
Present-day traffic counts averaging about 10,000 vehicles per day (occasional summer or rush-hour peaks under 15,000) are easily handled by single lane travel through this limited area with a reduced and appropriate speed limit, possibly 30 to 35 mph. Also, the high spot on Rt. 6 in vicinity of the Hilltop and over-55 housing impairs visibility ahead both ways, making safe entry and turning near these Marion facilities difficult. Updated sidewalks, improved safety and appearance are also essential and are included.
For some reason, this configuration which has been circulated in Marion and Rte 6 meetings for over a year was not included as an option in the recent studies of options to improve Rte. 6. I and others have urged that this be added to the choices, and in my opinion, remains the best balance of safety, economy and ease of construction.
Drivers in a single-lane area would naturally travel slower and abide by a reasonable posted limit. The center left-turn-only lane naturally provides some merging and departing space for travelers.
In summary, there are many benefits to Marion if we can adopt this or a similar layout for Rt. 6, which today divides our town, providing a badly-needed and much-desired bike/intermodal portion, and dealing with the daunting and sometimes dangerous traffic situations we now encounter in this most important area of Marion.
Please participate in the continuing gatherings in Marion to improve our town. Thanks!
Steve Kokkins, P.E. (Ret.)