In Partnership with the Barr Foundation
Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery
A dilemma facing communities right now is how to reopen while keeping residents safe through physical distancing. In a time when we’re required to maintain physical distance to protect public health, streets need to do more than ever.
Streets must be configured so that people are able to move safely and provide space so people can safely access food, essential services, and businesses.
There are quick, affordable, flexible adaptations you can make to your public spaces right now as an emergency measure and that will play also an important role throughout the pandemic recovery for the next 12 to 18 months.
Recognizing this need, MassDOT in partnership with the Barr Foundation, just announced a Shared Streets & Spaces funding program to provide technical and funding assistance to help Massachusetts cities and towns conceive, design and execute shared streets and spaces projects and engage their residents and businesses in that process. MassDevelopment has a complementary grant program for community partners. We can help you plan and get ready for a program in your community by helping with project scoping and visioning.
Simple changes = a big difference
Driving has dropped off in many communities, so now is a good time to share our streets. Here are some examples of simple changes that can make a big difference:
- Narrow lanes to both slow traffic and provide space so people can safely walk in the the street where sidewalks are too crowded.
- Offset parking from the curb to create a widened sidewalk to provide safe space for walking.
- Expand space to walk or bike by eliminating curbside parking temporarily.
- Provide curbside drop-off/pick-up zones on in business districts.
- Designate unused street space and parking lots for outdoor restaurant and store use.
- Make walking safer by adjusting signal timing and automating pedestrian push buttons.
- Allow neighbors to apply for a quick permit to set up a DIY neighborhood slow street.
Foundation support for streets for pandemic response and recovery
Once you’ve begun to identify your community’s specific needs and begun to get buy-in from municipal decision makers, we can help you plan and get prepare for a grant application for the MassDOT’s Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program and MassDevelopment’s complementary program for community organizations. We are available as a thought partner to test ideas. We can make funding available for other types of consultants and supports, if needed, to supplement technical and engineering assistance provided by the Barr Foundation.
Some of the first steps of planning for streets for recovery will likely be:
- Collaborating with key municipal staff to get their input.
- Giving neighbors a heads up that this is coming.
- Choosing streets that serve neighborhoods most in need.
- Designing a pilot project(s) and lining up needed materials.
- Choosing a date(s) for your pilots and setting them up.
- Observing how it goes and making adjustments.
- Documenting your successes and lessons learned.
- Beginning to build out longer term solutions.
The Solomon Foundation can help your municipality plan for and pilot shared streets by providing technical assistance and $5,000 to $10,000 of start up funding for:
- Strategic advice and coaching
- Planning and design consulting services for active transportation, placemaking, and fabrication
- Hiring a locally based project manager
- Purchasing supplies for a pilot project
- Public outreach and volunteer recruitment
- Documenting the project and evaluating its impact
- Setting up a crowd sourcing platform if you want to tap broader financial support for streateries and downtown businesses
*Note: We can provide a grant to a municipality or a nonprofit partnering with a municipality to hire a consultants and staff directly or, in some cases we can hire a consultant group on your behalf to accelerate the process. We cannot pay staff or casual wages for work on these projects.
Eligibility and how to apply
Municipalities and/or non-profits in partnership with municipalities are eligible to apply. Priority will be given for projects that meet the following criteria:
- Clearly benefits communities and vulnerable groups that are most afforded by COVID-19
- Responds and adapts to ongoing community feedback and needs
- Project will help prepare you to seek further funding from the Barr Foundation and MassDOT to replicate that success and expand the program
- Leadership and community support
- Organized team
- Can be delivered quickly
- Creates function and safe routes to improve access to essential destinations, local businesses, schools, and/or natural resources
- Promotes physical and mental health
- Creates beautiful and comfortable spaces for all users
- Prompts users to reimagine the status quo and imagine new potential in our public spaces and rights of way
We are happy to answer questions or talk through your ideas together. To get started please email our Program Manager, Allison Burson a short proposal for a streets for response and recovery initiative telling us:
(e.g. elected officials, city departments, non-profit groups, community groups, neighbors)
The need for a project
- Tell us about places in your community where people can’t walk or bike or travel safely or places where there’s crowding and people need more space.
- Describe the vulnerable populations you wish to serve. These groups may include older adults, communities of color, or low-income communities most impacted by the pandemic.
- Brief description of project need and idea
We will accept applications on a rolling basis and will reach out to you for a phone call or zoom meeting for more information. If we choose to move forward, we will work with you to refine the project scope and budget. We ask for an in-kind match of staff time, volunteer hours, and/or materials if possible. The experience planning and installing a first pilot project should enable you to seek further funding from the Barr Foundation and MassDOT to replicate that success and expand the program.