Editorial: Northampton road work’s inconvenience will pay off in future

Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2014
It’s hard to get around Northampton this month without running into signs warning of road work and streets that have been torn up. But the inconveniences for motorists now will pay off for years to come as the city addresses a long-neglected need to upgrade its heavily traveled roads.

Northampton Department of Public Works Director Edward S. Huntley has called the deployment of heavy equipment “probably the largest paving operation the city has had in seven or eight years.” Extensive road repairs will be done this summer and fall on nearly a dozen city streets at a cost of some $2 million. While the projects are not closing any roads, traffic is often reduced to one lane, creating some delays and requiring police to keep vehicles flowing. (This past weekend’s closing of a section of Damon Road was related to a project to fix a railroad crossing.)

When the repairs are over, motorists can expect much smoother rides because some of Northampton’s most pothole-pitted streets are being repaved.

Among the largest repairs is the repaving of a 1½-mile section on Route 9 from Florence Street in Leeds to South Main Street in Florence. Two to three inches of old pavement was removed and will be replaced with a new surface expected to last between 12 and 15 years. The repaving is scheduled for this month. That project will also include the construction of bicycle lanes from the center of Florence to Look Park.

Other repaving work this month includes Prospect Street between its intersection with Locust Street and Murphy Terrace, Jackson Street from Bridge Road to Barrett Street, North Street between King and Market streets, and Chestnut Street between High and Main streets in Florence.

And this fall, a complete reconstruction is scheduled for a section of Sylvester Road north from Turkey Hill Road, as well as Bridge Road between Francis and Jackson streets. Those projects involve digging down to the road’s base and completely rebuilding it.

Some projects are not as extensive. For example, “box paving” — which extends the life of roads in poor condition for six to 10 years — will be done between this month and October on Coles Meadow Road, Audubon Road, Pomeroy Terrace, Prospect Street, Burts Pit Road and Loudville Road. And some four dozen streets as well as several municipal parking lots will have cracks filled.

The work is expected to continue beyond this year as the city systematically improves its most basic infrastructure. Mayor David J. Narkewicz has proposed spending some $3 million on street repairs over the next five years. And the mayor also has authorized more capital money for the Department of Public Works to buy vehicles and other equipment, freeing state Chapter 90 money for road repairs.

We are glad that the mayor and other city officials recognize that a smooth ride is an important amenity for the residents of Northampton as well as its visitors.