MAP Northampton begins largest paving operation in years with $2 million and dozens of streets picked for improvement

Last modified: Thursday, July 31, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — In what Northampton’s public works director calls the largest paving operation in years, road repairs to the tune of some $2 million are officially in full swing at various spots around the city.

Nearly a dozen city streets will get some form of repair, including a stretch of heavily traveled Route 9 between downtown Florence and Leeds, and portions of Prospect and Bridge streets. No roads will be closed during construction, though traffic will be reduced to one lane, Department of Public Works Director Edward S. Huntley said.

“We have plenty of police details out there to keep traffic running smoothly, but do expect delays,” Huntley said.

Construction crews began preparing for the various projects last week and most of the projects are slated to be complete by the end of August, though significant work to Sylvester and Bridge roads is on tap for the fall.

The city is spending more money this year on road repairs than it has in several years, with $1 million coming from the state in the form of so-called Chapter 90 money and $500,000 approved as part of the city’s fiscal 2015 budget. The remaining money is leftover Chapter 90 funds from past years.

While not nearly enough to address an estimated $39 million street paving backlog, public works officials are happy that the city is committing funding for road repairs for the first time in years. Over the next five years, Mayor David J. Narkewicz proposes to funnel about $3 million into street repairs. Huntley requested $4.5 million a year in each of the next five years, but he’s “very pleased” with the money from the city.

Additionally, the DPW has secured more capital funds from the city in recent years to buy equipment and vehicles rather than using state money for those purposes. That enables the department to dedicate more of its state funding directly to road repairs.

“This is probably the largest paving operation the city has had in seven or eight years,” Huntley said.

Most of the work is being completed this summer and fall by Warner Bros., of Sunderland, which landed a roughly $1.86 million contract from the city.

Among the most prominent of those projects is the milling and repaving of a 1.5-mile stretch of Route 9 from Florence Street in Leeds — just short of the state-owned section of Route 9 — to South Main Street in Florence. Milling of Route 9 began this week, and there is no parking on Main Street in downtown Florence until Friday. The work will include construction of bicycle lanes from Florence center to Look Park.

The work involves removing 2 to 3 inches of pavement and replacing it with new pavement designed to last between 12 and 15 years. Repaving is scheduled for the week of Aug. 11.

Other work to be completed by the end of August includes milling and repaving a heavily used section of Prospect Street. The project involves improvements to a bumpy, 0.4-mile portion of the street running from the intersection of Locust (Route 9) and North Elm streets to Murphy Terrace, just past a four-way stop at the Jackson-Prospect-Woodlawn Avenue intersection.

Warner Bros. will also repave a quarter-mile stretch of Bridge Street from Pomeroy Terrace to Orchard Street, a quarter-mile portion of Jackson Street from Bridge Road to Barrett Street, a portion of Chestnut Street between Main and High streets, and a section of North Street between King and Market streets under a railroad bridge.

Later this fall, Warner Bros. will tackle a complete reconstruction, or reclaiming, of a stretch of Sylvester Road from Turkey Hill Road north about a quarter mile. The DPW spends an inordinate amount of money repairing potholes on the heavily used commuter and trucking road.

Unlike milling and repaving, a road reclamation project is far more expensive because it requires crews to tear out the roadway to its base and rebuild it. Huntley said the city is trying to catch deteriorating streets before they get to this point because of the cost. He said if the city had waited another couple of years to address Route 9 between Florence and Leeds, that road would have fallen into this category.

“We’re trying to focus on these main streets that will fall off into the most expensive categories,” Huntley said.

The project is scheduled to begin in early September and be completed in late October. Once complete, the road is expected to last for about two decades.

A similar timeline is in place to reconstruct a portion of Bridge Road from Francis Street to Jackson Street.

In other road work on the docket for the rest of this construction season:

∎ The city intends to “box pave” a half-dozen roads that are in poor condition between August and October. The process is intended to add an extra six to 10 years of life to the following streets: sections of Coles Meadow Road; Audubon Road from River Road to 151 Audubon; Pomeroy Terrace between Bridge Street and Butler Place; Prospect Street between Warfield and Finn streets; sections of Burts Pit Road; and Loudville Road.

∎ A nearly $50,000 project to chip-seal Barrett Street was recently awarded to All States Asphalt Inc. The specialized process is used to lengthen the life of roads in fairly good condition by about 10 years to avoid more expensive repaving in the future. This four-day project is expected to begin Saturday.

∎ Crack-Sealing Inc., of Raynham, is continuing work on a $133,000 project to crack seal many city streets. That work is ongoing for several more weeks. The city is using $100,000 in Chapter 90 money to pay for the work to be done on portions of 48 city streets, with the balance of the contract coming from the city’s general fund to fill cracks in several city-owned parking lots.

∎ The city is using $150,000 from the state to fix potholes.

Chad Cain can be reached at ccain@gazettenet.com