On Tuesday, March 10th, the Town of Amherst approved Warrant Article #32, the Amherst Street Side Path. This vote represents the first opportunity for Amherst to take a step towards building a town-wide multimodal network as part of the Multimodal Master Plan.
This project reconfigures scheduled road construction taking place in 2020, to include the formation of a 1.91 mile, multi-use path along Amherst Street from Courthouse Road to the Milford town line—providing a safer, separated space for walkers, cyclists, and other non-motorized transportation along our highest-volume road managed by the town. It is important to note that this is the Amherst Street which connects the Amherst Village to Milford, not NH 101a in Nashua.
The keystone design featured in this initiative is a sidepath—a paved, bi-directional, multi-use space which is separated from the roadway by at least 5 feet. Sidepaths are similar to sidewalks except that they are wider, and allow sufficient space for more than just pedestrians—an important consideration in rural communities like ours where safe walking spaces are desired but may not always be the most effective method of non-motorized transportation.
This particular design offers the ability to engineer “systematic safety principles” into the roadway by separating motor traffic from people, thereby eliminating the opportunity for fatal collisions which exists today due to the vehicular volume and speeds found along this route. By constructing a separated sidepath, people of all ages and abilities would be able to safely travel along this route without relying solely on personal vigilance or the sometimes-limited attention of drivers.
What specific design considerations are offered in this project?
- The utilization of systematic safety principles as a determination for where to separate people from motor vehicles
- The installation of 10,090 feet of multimodal transportation facilities to connect the Amherst village to the town of Milford, including 5,775 feet of separated sidepath.
- The utilization of a sidepath as a separated, bidirectional, multimodal facility – a design that is especially appropriate for rural applications and is also cost-effective
- The consideration of safer intersection designs which reduce exposure to conflicts, reduce speeds, and allow for safe and convenient passage of multimodal users
- Defining multimodal space with terra cotta-colored hot-mix asphalt colorant, which lasts for the life of the pavement
- Providing an objectively safer space for multimodal users, allowing for more comfortable use of environmentally-friendly transportation modes (not just for recreation)
- A multimodal transportation system that does not rely on high levels of confidence, experience, or physical ability, allowing for comfortable use by people of all ages