ORLEANS — Even on a cold and windy day, their warm feelings about the Main Street Reconstruction and Village Center Streetscape project came through.
Planning and Community Development Director George Meservey and DPW/Natural Resources Director Tom Daley took another close-up look last week at the results of a years-long effort to reorder traffic flow and provide amenities such as seating and pocket parks on the 800- to 900-foot stretch between state intersection updates at Routes 28 and 6A.
The town was awarded a MassWork Infrastructure Program grant of $1.5 million for the project, and voters agreed to fund the remaining $600,000 by unanimous voice vote at town meeting and by more than a two-to-one margin at the ballot box. The project was another element of long-term planning for the village center, which also included installation of a sewer collection system and rezoning to encourage residential development.
The changes are large and small, but all are intended to encourage shared use of the space by motorists, cyclists, and walkers. The intersection with Brewster Cross Road, described as “a sea of pavement” in 2018 by project engineer John Hayden of Stantec, now hosts two curved pocket parks with seating walls and, eventually, art. Even with temperatures in the 40s last week, people were trying out the bench walls, shopping bags by their side.
In the new layout, the busy interface of Friend’s Market and Post Office Square has been altered to channel traffic more efficiently. Last week, Meservey and Daley sat on a stone seating wall that goes across what used to be an entrance to Post Office Square; they looked over at the pocket parks across the way.
The basic elements of the reconstruction are new brick sidewalks and granite curbing, which support amenities such as bump-outs to increase visibility for pedestrians, bike racks, and new trees with access to power for lighting.