Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
Cloudy
65°
Cloudy
Hi 83° | Lo 63°

Road work at last for North Street in Northampton

  • Water mane construction on North Street in Northampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Water mane construction on North Street in Northampton.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • John and Gus Frye, residents of North Street, voice their opinions about the ongoing North Street construction Thursday in Northampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    John and Gus Frye, residents of North Street, voice their opinions about the ongoing North Street construction Thursday in Northampton.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jennifer Innes, resident of North Street, voices her opinions on the ongoing North Street construction Thursday in Northampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Jennifer Innes, resident of North Street, voices her opinions on the ongoing North Street construction Thursday in Northampton.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Water mane construction on North Street in Northampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • John and Gus Frye, residents of North Street, voice their opinions about the ongoing North Street construction Thursday in Northampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Jennifer Innes, resident of North Street, voices her opinions on the ongoing North Street construction Thursday in Northampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

— Each weekday morning at 7 a.m., Jennifer Innes, 212 North St., wakes to the sound of construction. She is one of many residents of North Street in Northampton who can expect to hear jackhammers, backhoes and graders till this time next year.

The long-planned repaving of North Street is bound to cause some disruption and inconvenience for residents, said Felix Harvey, assistant civil engineer for the city Department of Public Works. Many residents interviewed, however, largely agree that the DPW is doing a good job of making the construction as convenient as possible.

“They’ve actually been very thoughtful about making sure that we can get out of the streets in the morning,” said Innes.

Joan Fenton, who has lived at 164 North St. for 48 years, commended the DPW for coordinating the work well.

“It hasn’t interfered with us at all. They’ve been very accommodating,” said Fenton. She said she has not been disturbed by the construction in the mornings because she is up before it begins.

The North Street project began in August, slightly later then was originally planned because the construction company, Ludlow-based Caracas Construction, was working on another project. Harvey said that the $1.8 million project, which is currently within budget, is expected to be complete by the fall of 2013, on schedule. Thus far, project managers have not run into any serious problems.

In addition to repaving North Street, the plans include redoing the sidewalks and replacing or repairing underground city utilities. Currently, construction crews are working on the city water and sewer systems, which they will complete before they begin repaving. If no problems arise, Harvey anticipates the work on utilities will be done before construction stops for the winter. In the spring, the crew will begin working on the sidewalks and road.

Residents agree that the road, which is bumpy and riddled with potholes and patches, is desperately in need of maintenance.

“The roads were in very bad condition,” said Ward 3 City Councilor Owen Freeman-Daniels.

“You don’t even realize how wide the street is,” said Freeman-Daniels, who lives on Woodmont, off North Street. “You’re usually stuck trying to share the middle of the road with another car because the edges are so pitted and potholed. So I’m very happy that they’re redoing the road.”

John Frey, of 60 North St. said he is glad to see the road being reconstructed. He maintains having the road repaved is worth any inconvenience the project causes.

“The construction’s not bad. They help us get out of our driveway,” said Frey. “It’s kind of interesting.”

Frey’s 3-year-old son Gus has also found the work fascinating. He said his favorite part was “the big backhoe.” When the construction crew was working outside their house, Gus watched them at work and brought them Spiderman Popsicles. Frey and his wife, Jennifer Dieringer, have been so pleased with the project and how it’s been managed, they wrote a letter to the editor thanking the crew.

Harvey said they are not alone.

“The feedback that I’ve gotten is, I would say, mainly good,” said Harvey. “It’s surprisingly so. Typically we don’t start getting good feedback till the end.”

He attributes the positive feedback to the DPW’s focus on informing and involving the community.

The DPW had a series of community meeting before the project began. Each Monday, they post a memo on the progress of construction and plans and anticipated road closings for the upcoming week on the public works section of the city’s website.

North Street is usually open on one side, according to Harvey. But sometimes workers must close the portion of road where they are working.

Meanwhile, residents said construction has significantly decreased traffic on North Street.

Freeman-Daniels said the only unanticipated construction problem he has heard about is increased dust and dirt.

The crew usually fills ditches with loose gravel during the week and paves them on Fridays, said Harvey. Because the weather has been dry and the soil in the area includes an unusual amount of river silt, it has been hard to prevent dust. Harvey said the crew has been adding calcium chloride to the gravel and occasionally paving trenches mid-week in its effort to minimize dust.

David Newton, one of the organizers of North Street Neighbors, a community organization that lobbied for changes to the North Street plans, said that the issues he and other residents were most concerned about were “the markings on the street, the curbing, the sidewalks and the materials used.” North Street Neighbors petitioned for concrete sidewalks and granite curbing along the length of North Street.

Harvey said that current plans call for concrete sidewalks along the road closer to Market Street and at handicap ramps, and asphalt sidewalks in the areas farther from the downtown. The DPW will reuse granite curbing where it already exists, but they will not add it to new areas.

Harvey believes that asphalt sidewalks are a good choice for most of North Street.

“It’s typically how we treat more neighborhood situations,” said Harvey. “There are pros and cons to both kinds of sidewalk.” Asphalt sidewalks are not only less costly to install, but also less costly to maintain according to Harvey.

The water and sewer lines have not had serious problems, but Harvey said that city inspections showed that the old lines would require significant repairs in the future and the city wants to avoid having to tear up North Street once it is repaved.

In order to complete new sewer lines between Market Street and Woodmont Road, the DPW put in a temporary water system. Several residents said that they had lost water for short periods during construction, but they were warned ahead of time and water service returned within a day.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.