O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
Some downtown streets have become dangerous speedways over the last several years. Drivers are treating Maple and Beech Streets like highways, speeding through crowded neighborhoods, causing dangerous accidents, and putting people at risk.
These two urban highways cut through Manchester’s core neighborhoods, which are home to many people of color and lower-income communities. The way these streets were built has created significant problems for these residents. Speeding and car crashes have become all too common. And these highways have led to poor air quality and other environmental harms.
The design of these streets is to blame for this reckless behavior. Two-lane one-way streets encourage drivers to speed, and it’s time we redesign these streets to make them safer. In fact, city officials have already done this on those same roads north of Bridge Street. That process took just a year, and the neighborhood south of Bridge deserves the same quick action.
Thankfully, the city has heard the concerns of these communities and a process is underway to redesign these streets to make them safer for residents. The city is bringing in a group to study the design of these streets and come up with a safer, more environmentally friendly alternative.
To solve this problem, the number of traffic lanes on all these streets need to be reduced. Then, officials can make more space for bikes, pedestrians, and public transportation. It’s time we prioritize people over cars, and this is the way we make it happen.
People who live in the area can get involved in making their communities safer. We need Manchester neighbors to tell us how we can make Beech and Maple Streets better. We want to know what they need, what they want, and what could make our streets safer, but also more livable and enjoyable for all – including our families and children.
There will be two listening sessions at Manchester Central High School on Friday, July 21, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The goal of these sessions is for people to share their concerns and hopes for Beech and Maple streets. Live interpretation will be provided so everyone can participate in these important meetings.
After these sessions, a team of professional community planners will use this feedback to put together a presentation on how to improve our street safety, equity, and quality of life. This presentation will occur on Saturday, July 22 at 3 p.m., and it will outline a path forward to make these streets safer for everyone.
We have an opportunity to put an end to the dangerous design of Maple and Beech Streets and make our community safer for our families and children. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to ensure that neighborhoods in Manchester’s downtown core get the same benefits as those in other parts of the city.
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