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Public Review of the Draft Massachusetts State Bicycle Plan until January 31, 2019

The Massachusetts State Bicycle Plan is currently out for public review and is accepting comments until January 31, 2019.  Please visit the MassDOT website for further information and links to the full version of the Plan.

MassDOT is focused on making the Commonwealth’s transportation system more sustainable – to make it safe for people to choose to walk, bike, and take transit for more of their daily trips.  The Plan is important because residents, members of the business community and visitors choose to use a bicycle for daily trips, choosing bike to work, to school, to run errands, for recreation or to reach transit locations.

The Draft Plan defines a vision for Massachusetts in which all people have a safe and comfortable cycling option for short trips.  The goal is to have a plan which presents an action-oriented strategy which will lead to increased use of trails for short trips made by bicycling.  Travel on designated bike and pedestrian thoroughfares will also lead to safer conditions, helping to prevent injuries and fatalities.  The draft plan goes into further detail about the state of biking today.

In addition to the Plan, a companion document was created, called the Municipal Resource Guide for Bikeability, in recognition of the important role local cities and towns play. The purpose of the guide is to support cities and towns in their efforts to improve bikeability as the vast majority of roadways and shared use paths statewide are under local ownership. A draft guide was released in November of 2018 and an updated version will be published with the final Bicycle Plan early next year.

For more information on the Bicycle Plan and to provide feedback: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/bicycle-plan.

Notice of Public Comment regarding Transportation Enhancements Funding

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) intends to use a portion of Transportation Enhancements funding originally approved in the 2009 Transportation Improvement Program for the Mohawk Trail and the Connecticut River Scenic Byway, on the Route 112 Scenic Byway instead.  The funding will be used for land protection as originally intended. This notice invites all interested parties who wish to comment on this change to submit them to the FRCOG during the public comment period running from December 21, 2018 to January 14, 2019.  For further information, or to submit comments, please contact the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, located at 12 Olive Street, Suite 2, Greenfield, MA, by calling (413) 774-3167 ext. 125, or emailing giannini@frcog.org.

CPHS Health District Celebrates 6th Birthday

Members of the Boards of Health and Select Boards in the Cooperative Public Health Service health district’s eleven member towns gathered on November 29th to celebrate their sixth year of collaborating to provide high quality public health protections to residents. We were also joined by state Department of Public Health Office of Rural Health and Office of Local and Regional Health staff and a member of the Mohawk Trail Regional school staff!  After dinner, speakers addressed a health topic of great concern to our region: adolescent health, especially as regards vaping and marijuana, and what local actions towns can take to protect youth.  You can review the presentations here:

Staff also reviewed highlights of the past year. and our Public Health Nurse, Lisa White, received an award from the organizers of National Rural Health Day for being a Rural Health Community Star!

CPHS Public Health Nurse Lisa White receives her National Rural Health Day Community Star award from a member of the state nominating committee, Kirby Lecy.

 

Birthday cake featuring frosting septic system, food inspection equipment, ticks, and Lisa’s award! From Baked in Shelburne.

Group photo with our district birthday cake, an annual tradition!

 

Reports of High Risk Stream Crossings in the Deerfield River Watershed are now available.

Reports of High Risk Stream Crossings in the Deerfield River Watershed are now available. The information in the reports and maps is from a pilot project completed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass) that assessed the vulnerability of road-stream crossings to precipitation events. FRCOG planning staff compiled this information for each Franklin County town within the watershed as part of the FY18 Franklin Region Unified Planning Work Program. The purpose of the maps and reports are to help municipal officials and public works staff prioritize bridge and culvert upgrades in their town. The reports also provide information on how to make road-stream upgrades more resilient to current and projected precipitation conditions, and lists potential funding sources for upgrading crossings. The town reports are available here.

New Labor Market Blueprint

As a member of the Pioneer Valley Regional Planning Core Team, FRCOG is partnering with the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board and others to implement strategies of the Pioneer Valley Labor Market Blueprint. The Blueprint was developed to better align the work of economic development, workforce and education partners for the purpose of creating strong talent pipelines for our three-county region.

FRCOG Wants to Hear Your Thoughts on Transportation in the Region!

The FRCOG is currently updating the Regional Transportation Plan.  This plan is updated every 4 years and examines the current state of the transportation system in the region, including all modes of transportation – such as driving, walking, biking, and riding the bus or train.  The plan also identifies the long-term transportation needs of the region and prioritizes projects and activities. This plan will give Franklin County the opportunity to identify needed projects; address environmental and safety concerns; and meet the growing economic development needs of the region.

As part of the planning process, the FRCOG wants input from Franklin County residents and employees.  There will be 4 public meetings around the County to get feedback on transportation needs and priorities (see dates below). If you are unable to attend a meeting, please take our survey to let us know your thoughts: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2019RTPsurvey.

  • Tuesday, December 11th ( 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.) Town of Colrain Highway Garage, 55 Main Road, Colrain, MA (snow date December 12th)
  • Tuesday, January 8th (5:30 – 7:00 p.m.) Erving Senior Center, 1 Care Drive, Erving, MA (snow date January 9th)
  • Wednesday, January 9th (12:00 – 1:30 p.m.) John W. Olver Transit Center, First Floor Meeting Room, 12 Olive Street, Greenfield, MA (snow date January 10th)
  • Wednesday, January 16th (5:30 – 7:00 p.m.) Sunderland Library, 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA (snow date of January 17th)

Regional Transportation Plan Outreach Meetings Flyer

For more information, please contact Megan Rhodes, Senior Transportation & Land Use Planner at mrhodes@frcog.org or (413)774-3167 x 132.

Rural Policy Advisory Commission Listening Sessions

Listening Sessions

A series of listening sessions has recently been scheduled to gather input from community leaders regarding the suggested focus areas to be included in the development of the Massachusetts Rural Policy Plan.  Listening sessions will be held in several regions across the Commonwealth.

A survey is available to provide input at the RPAC SURVEY –https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RPAC2018

The Western Massachusetts listening sessions are:

  • 12/6   6 PM  at Berkshire Regional Planning Commission register at info@berkshireplanning.org
  • 12/11  5PM at Pioneer Valley Planning Commission register at lgallagher@pvpc.org
  • 12/13 5PM at GCC Downtown  — register at registrations@frcog.org

Click here for Rural Policy Advisory Commission website. 

Municipal Financial Management Workshop Materials

This workshop on 11/8 featured FRCOG Municipal Financial Management Specialist Joe Markarian, who joined us after a long career of supporting towns in improving their financial management practices at the Technical Assistance Bureau of the Massachusetts Division of Local Services.

Materials from the training:
Municipal Calendar from the DOR Division of Local Services
Slides from the workshop
Finance Seminar Spreadsheets
Some cyber-security tips from Mass.Gov

2018 Evaluation of Franklin County Park and Ride Facilities is Completed

The FRCOG Staff evaluated the existing park and ride facilities in Franklin County to determine how well they are being utilized.  In addition, FRCOG Staff conducted surveys of the park and ride users to better understand where people were coming from and how they were using the lots.  The study shows that the use of the Whately and Sunderland park and ride lots continue to increase in popularity and that many users of the Sunderland lot are parking there in order to access public transit. For more information, contact Megan Rhodes, Senior Transportation and Land Use Planner, at mrhodes@frcog.org.

Park and Ride Study 2018