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

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.

Legacy Comments8

One of the reasons that I chose to stay in Baystate for 22 years is the wonderful diversity of the neighborhood…socioeconomically, ethnicity-wise, family constellations, etc…However, with diversity comes many different points of view, needs, and desires. I hope that we can all keep an open heart as we listen to one another and that we can always remember to be respectful in our responses. See you all on Feb. 18th, Diane

Yes, there are many wonderful neighborhoods that make up Bay State. Some residents have relocated to the area, and many are life-long residents. Growing up, when Hinckley Street was in great condition, there were no traffic issues, but it would have been wonderful to have sidewalks that were extended so we did not have to walk in the road, especially on icy and wintery days going to and from school. An open heart is good, but it is an open mind that is necessary to understand the dire need for reconstruction in order to eliminate potential hazards of this road, the drainage system, as well as improve the quality of the sidewalks that is deserved. These much needed improvements have been long in coming and are way overdue, and it is the very tax paying residents of this street as well as surrounding neighbors time.

We love living here, but the current and future speeding cars need appropriate traffic calming measures permanently installed. As for sidewalks, there are only two partial streets within the village (1/2 of Hinckley and 1/2 of Warner) that have sidewalks. Why add more at added expense? DPW will let us know some of the answers to "why" widen and add sidewalks and expensive granite curbs. Another issue that Hinckley Street owners will need to know: as the water pipe is replaced, do owners need to upgrade their water mains to copper? It is healthier than old pipes, but homeowners will need fair warning as it is their expense. Candee

The added extension of sidewalks would be fantastic. The streets are very narrow, and to have the sidewalks extended would be an improvement from walking in the road especially for children and the elderly. As for the water mains, again we are on borrowed time; better to prevent than to repair catastrophic damages. While the granite curbs are more costly, they will sustain plows, and other hardships much better than the traditional curbing; you get what you pay for. If Hinckley street does not utilize the money, then it will just be shifted to another location, so why not Hinckley? As for speeding cars, thankfully there is a stop sign at the 4 way corner, in saying that you are looking at scenario that can be controlled by other measures as well. Because you like things they way they are because they fit you, is not a reason to suppress improvement for quality.

I agree with Sara. This is a quiet, peaceful, neighborhood street where families feel comfortable walking with their children and dogs. Hinckley is a cut-through street from Nonotuck to Riverside, but the potholes create a "natural" traffic calming measure that keep the number of cars (and car speed) under control. I actually prefer it being unpaved, but absolutely don't want it widened or sidewalks added. That would change the feel from a safe, quiet, semi-rural neighborhood to an open, suburban short-cut with all of the traffic problems that come with it. Also, many people would lose half of their already "postage stamp" sized front yards. I hope everyone will come to the meeting on Feb. 18th to hear the details, ask questions, and voice their concerns. Diane

Hinckley Street is long overdue for reconstruction. To suggest a preference to leave the road unpaved is ridiculous. Between walkers, bikers, and cars dodging tire popping pot holes it is a very hazardous location. Bay State Village and its' residents deserve this much needed reconstruction. I can only suggest if you are concerned about foot traffic to use the new side walk they will be putting in, or try one of the many trails. Having lived in this neighborhood my entire life and traveled this street routinely it absolutely without a doubt needs to be reconstructed to include sidewalks and the drainage system which is outdated, and only on borrowed time. I cannot believe after all these years of waiting for this street to be fixed, that anyone would be against it. If you prefer rural than move to a more open location, there are plenty of surrounding towns like chesterfield that are not only beautiful but have very minimal car traffic.

I grew up in Bay State many years ago. I walked to and from the Feiker School twice a day ( no school lunches back then). Sure, there was a sidewalk from Riverside to Warner but it was 2 feet wide and barely paved. The "walk" continued from Warner to Winslow but it was dirt ( so was Winslow St at that time). We walked in the street most of the time, especially in winter. Three cheers to the City for wanting to refurbish Hinckley St and working on the infrastructure at the same time. I can't wait to come and see the new street!

Many of us residents on Hinckley understand and like that the poor road condition slows cars and deters through-traffic. We haven't needed a sidewalk because the little bit of traffic is slow. It's mostly our wonderful Bay State neighbors that walk, jog and drive here. We don't want this to become the speedy short-cut that it looks like on google maps. An older version of the plan for Hinckley was described by George Andrikidis as similar to Spring street, which had just been re-built. A friend on Spring St said the average speed was comfortably over 40 mph. Traffic Engineers know that Sidewalks provide a wider view that encourages speed, therefore designers must narrow the curb-to-curb width and include substantial traffic calming measures. I actually prefer the traffic averting measures we have. Hinckley drainage problems do not seem to pose any hazards to life or real estate, unless driving too fast. -Sara

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