To the editor:

Did you know that you can walk all the way, on a sidewalk, from downtown Gloucester to Niles Beach via Eastern Point Road, but no further — and that you can walk from downtown Gloucester to Farrington Avenue, via Atlantic Road, but no further? Is there any reason that a much-needed sidewalk cannot be constructed between Atlantic Road and Eastern Point Road by the city of Gloucester? Recently the owner of the house at the corner of Farrington Avenue and Niles Beach exposed a part of the uncompleted sidewalk. At the other end of Niles Beach the noxious “poison ivy” that blocked the very rough path at the East Side of the Road has been removed.

The need for a completion of this sidewalk to enable walkers to make a complete circuit around the peninsula is obvious — safety, eco-friendliness, tourist appeal and beautification, etc. The time to complete this sidewalk is now. Councilors have recently trumpeted the need for sidewalks. They have acknowledged that there are barrel loads of free federal and state money available and if that was not good enough interest rates are so low and the city of Gloucester’s bond rating so high that borrowing is like getting more free money. In terms of comparative value think of it this way. I was on the rough path on the eastern side of Niles Beach with my two dogs when I observed an SUV back out of the Niles Beach parking lot and crash into a telephone pole. that could have been you who got hit. Let’s suppose that person had been killed or injured? The city of Gloucester would probably be held liable and would have to pay several millions to settle. If the cost of a sidewalk is less than the potential settlement for a possible death or injury then it’s a slam dunk! If the council is going to install sidewalks, it would be hard to believe that the value of a sidewalk at Niles Beach should not be top of the list. The city has been diligent to install Americans with Disabilities Act crosswalks all over the city but not at Niles Beach? I have observed a lady in a wheelchair negotiating the mish-mash at Niles Beach. Doesn’t she deserve a proper sidewalk so she can enjoy the beach in safety?

On a typical day, summer or winter, Eastern Point Road, Farrington Avenue and the road along Niles Beach is busy with tourists in cars sightseeing, bicyclists, motorbikes, SUVs, trucks, 18-wheelers looking for a short cut to Maine, delivery trucks, dog walkers, hikers, bird watchers and beachgoers unloading their children, dogs and equipment from the rear of their vehicles on to the highway — it’s busy!!!

The stretch of road along Niles Beach is clearly unsafe for multiple reasons. As you approach Niles Beach from downtown you come down a hill — most cars exceed the speed limit at this point. There have been various incidents over the years, of people driving so fast that they have crashed into the protective barrier at 1 Eastern Point Boulevard. To exacerbate this problem out-of-town drivers have no idea what to expect when they come down that hill or the hill on Farrington Avenue at the other end of Niles Beach. In addition cars at the Farrington/Niles Beach/Eastern Point Boulevard intersection face a myriad of hazards: traffic exiting for the road to the lighthouse, people using the junction as a turn around, people exiting the road to the lighthouse. In addition there are walkers, cyclists and others trying to cross. Trucks routinely speed along Niles Beach and either continue up Farrington or go down to the lighthouse without slowing till they reach the first speed bump. Crossing at that junction is very hazardous.

Large pickup trucks routinely park at Niles Beach with their rear jutting into the roadway. Traffic coming from downtown routinely has to cross into the oncoming roadway in order to pass the parked vehicles!!!! This is a hazard for oncoming traffic. This presents an almost insurmountable problem for walkers, the disabled and people unloading their parked cars. Gloucester claims to be an eco city. It would be nice if they could help those who want to walk safely and enjoy one of the most spectacularly beautiful vistas in the world.

What is needed to make Niles Beach safe? There should be posted signs with a maximum speed of 15 mph. There should be flashing lights on Eastern Point Road and Farrington Avenue 50 yards before Niles Beach street and pedestrian crossings at each end of the Beach. The crossing that was installed for the benefit of the Eastern Point Day School, now defunct, should be moved to Niles Beach.

Christopher Lewis

Gloucester

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