Route 9 work in Florence on tap, with Hinckley Street project in Northampton delayed

Last modified: Wednesday, March 26, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — Travel along a stretch of Route 9 in Florence will become much smoother, with plans moving forward on a reconstruction project for a one-mile stretch from North Main Street to Look Park.

Meanwhile, drivers on Hinckley Street should brace for at least another year of bumpy rides with the Department of Public Works’ recent announcement that its planned $1.5 million reconstruction of the street has been postponed a year. The delay will give engineers time to design a new underground stormwater drainage system in the area intended to alleviate flooding that often plagues lower Bay State Village.

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The Route 9 work, set to begin some time in the summer to early fall, will include bicycle lanes and, if money is available, sidewalk replacement. David Veleta, the city’s senior civil engineer, said the project may be extended to include an additional stretch of Route 9 from the roundabout to Florence Street in Leeds using state Chapter 90 money that would have gone to Hinckley Street this year, though DPW staff are still determining how they will use the extra money.

“The goal is to move the bidding process forward for this North Main Street project sooner rather than later,” Veleta said. “The portion at least to the roundabout is very much in the works.”

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Meanwhile, the delay on Hinckley Street will result in additional drainage benefits in the area over the long run, according to Edward S. Huntley, director of the Department of Public Works.

Engineers have determined that the best way to handle the flow of stormwater from upper Warner Street and Maplewood Terrace is to reroute water down Hinckley Street to a new outlet to the Mill River on the southeast side of Riverside Drive. Currently, drainage from Warner and Maplewood flow to the Federal and Elm street brook systems, which are undersized during peak flows.

The work will help alleviate drainage issues on lower Elm Street during heavy rains and provide a benefit beyond the Hinckley Street project, Huntley said.

“This will enable us to serve a broader stroke than just doing Hinckley Street,” he said.

The drainage improvements will not affect surface drainage or impact properties in the neighborhood, nor will it alter plans for Hinckley Street’s reconstruction outlined at a public meeting in February, Huntley said.

The overall project calls for rebuilding Hinckley Street along a half-mile stretch between Riverside Drive and South Main Street. The project includes new curbs on both sides of the street and extension of a roughly 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the eastern side of the street from where an existing sidewalk ends at Warner Street to Nonotuck Street. The sidewalk drew the most discussion at the public meeting, but DPW staff determined a sidewalk fits the city’s goals outlined in the Sustainable Northampton Plan.

Other projects

Plans to replace a water line on Winslow Avenue will move forward this year and be combined with other water line projects, rather than with the Hinckley Street reconstruction, Huntley said.

It will take four to six months to design the drainage improvements and secure a permit from the Conservation Commission to construct the new drainage outlet.

“We recognize that after the public meeting and subsequent media coverage, this project schedule is a change from what was previously presented,” Huntley said in an email to residents. “However, the change provides a great opportunity to provide improved drainage systems in this area.”

Other significant projects on tap this year include a sewer line replacement from Industrial Drive to the Bradford Street pumping station and continued crack sealing maintenance program.

DPW staff will also spend considerable time this year preparing permit documents for a bevy of significant projects slated for 2015.

In addition to Hinckley Street, projects planned for 2015 include removal of the Upper Roberts Meadow Dam off Chesterfield Road, slope stabilization to control erosion on Roberts Meadow Brook in the Musante Beach area, and repair of the River Road retaining wall.