Northampton prepares to rebuild Hinckley Street in a $1.5 million project this summer

Thursday, February 06, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — The city is preparing for a complete reconstruction this summer of Hinckley Street in Florence, which is described by the city’s senior civil engineer as a “moonscape” because of its crevasses and rough spots.

This is the latest in a series of high-profile road projects in Northampton after Conz and North streets and Kennedy Road were all reconstructed in recent years.

Hinckley Street’s reconstruction, with a roughly $1.5 million price tag, has been stalled for at least two decades due to a lack of funding. But the road’s deteriorating condition has moved it to the top of the city’s priority list, said David Veleta, a senior civil engineer at the Department of Public Works.

“The road is in dreadful condition,” Veleta said.

In addition to rebuilding and repaving the road, the project will include replacement of antiquated sewer, water and storm drain lines, some of which date back more than a century. The work will take place along Hinckley’s half-mile stretch of road between Riverside Drive to the south and South Main Street to the north.

The city is also proposing construction of a 5-foot sidewalk along Hinckley’s entire eastern side. An existing sidewalk that stretches from Riverside to Warner Street would be rebuilt, then extended from Warner to Nonotuck Street.

DPW officials are expected to outline a design for the project at a public meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Feiker School, 221 Riverside Drive.

In addition to new pavement, the project includes curbs on both sides of the street to improve drainage.

The city expects to seek bids this spring, with construction starting in July. Like the $2 million reconstruction of North Street, the work may stretch into next construction season, though Veleta said the goal is to have at least a bottom layer of pavement in place before the snow flies next winter.

The work will also include installation of a new water line on Winslow Avenue from Hinckley to Federal Street.

While lack of money has delayed Hinckley’s repair over the years, DPW officials have also wanted to ensure that there was enough money to replace the infrastructure under the street at the same time, rather than rebuilding the road and then having to tear it up to replace utilities or deal with broken pipe. A recent assessment of the city’s water pipes recommended upgrades to the water line under Hinckley Street, installed in the late 1880s.

“We’re trying to take a more holistic view in terms of what we’re trying to do with streets,” Veleta said.

Veleta anticipates that the project will not be as disruptive to the general public as the reconstruction of North Street, which acts as a popular shortcut, but the DPW and contractor will work to accommodate residents who will be affected by the project.

The city is still working on the design and welcomes comment on the plans at the Feb. 18 meeting cosponsored by the Bay State Village Association, Veleta said.

“The plans are definitely not set in stone and the intention of the meeting is to get some feedback,” he added.