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New Transportation Advisory Committee will provide forum for transportation projects, grants

After months of discussions, the Planning Board finally got a green light for the creation of a Transportation Advisory Committee. At its Jan. 5 meeting, the Select Board approved the committee’s charge, the gist of which is to address any transportation-related issues that arise in Harvard.

The Transportation Advisory Committee will consist of 10 members charged with setting goals and priorities for improving all modes of transportation in town and with pursuing grants to fund those improvements. The members will include one member each from the Planning Board, Select Board, Council on Aging, and the School Committee, as well as five residents and the director of community and economic development. One of the resident members will be tasked with advocating for bicycle paths and/or trails, and another with representing the business community.

Members of the Planning Board presented a proposal for the committee to the Select Board at its Dec. 1 meeting, where Stacia Donahue began her explanation with, “We need help.” She explained that the board does not have the time to chase down grant opportunities, not just for road-related projects, but for other projects such as trails or park and ride.

Planning Board Chair Justin Brown told the board that transportation projects and issues tend to occur irregularly, and the board had too much on its plate to react quickly enough. The transportation committee, however, could call a meeting to deal with these issues as soon as they arise and give them “the attention they deserve,” Brown said.

The committee will work with the Department of Public Works director to recommend projects as well as providing an open public forum for those projects. Members of other boards, town officials such as the police chief and fire chief, and the public will be part of the process of developing transportation goals and priorities.

The town is looking for volunteers to serve on the committee; forms are available on the town website and are due by Jan. 31. The Select Board will conduct interviews at its first meeting in February, and it will appoint the five resident members at the following meeting. Members will serve a three-year term. Regular meetings will be quarterly, but special meetings will be called as issues arise. Meetings will be open to the public

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