NANTUCKET SOS! (Save Our Streets)

pleasantsttreeA FRIEND called me today with the sad news that what I once called my favorite street in America is under attack from the island’s own Public Works Department. I don’t know the details, but it’s surprising, because as we wrote in Street Design, Nantucket has a long history of not changing things that work—as their streets do.

Case in point, the beautiful Elm trees on and near Main Street, like the one above.

I gather the problem is handicap access, which is a real problem. But there’s more than one way to do anything, and design is about solving problems with solutions that are both functional and beautiful.

There’s a meeting tomorrow night to discuss the problem. While we wait to hear what that is, here’s a limerick I wrote while visiting Nantucket for Street Design:

There once was a tree on Nantucket,
With none of its roots in a bucket,
“That can’t be,”
Said the state DOT,
But no car has ever yet struck it.

After the jump, another Nantucket Elm

One thought on “NANTUCKET SOS! (Save Our Streets)

  1. Hillary Rayport

    Thank you for writing about our challenge on Nantucket. Indeed, The DPW believes everything needs to come up and be reconstructed and put in concrete and laid on modern foundations, to enhance accessibility and durability. Construction approaches aside, some of the pressure is coming from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation “Complete Streets” initiative. Nantucket has adopted “complete streets” and now is making sidewalks wider and streets narrower – including in very historic areas such as the late 17th/early 18th century corner of the Pacific Club at the foot of Main Street. In order to comply with the 2% cross slope requirement, the old hand-hewn curbs have gone to the scrap heap, and new sharp machine cut curbs were installed. I’d love to hear what you think about Complete Streets and its effect on historic communities. Are other historic communities adopting Complete Streets and if so how are they keeping themselves historic? Thank you.
    PS: I think the pictures you sent are from Pleasant Street. Main Street has more clearance, but we still have a lot of tree roots! Indeed we need creative solutions.


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