Rocky Hill Road repaving postponed in Hadley 

  • AP FILE PHOTO/SETH PERLMAN AP FILE PHOTO/SETH PERLMAN

Staff Writer
Published: 5/23/2022 9:24:28 AM

HADLEY — Even though repaving a long stretch of a major commuter route is a priority for the Department of Public Works’ interim director, town officials are postponing any significant work on Rocky Hill Road until water pipes below the road can be upgraded.

With input from Scott McCarthy, the interim director, the Select Board recently voted to put off spending around $300,000 in state Chapter 90 road money for a project to resurface a mile or so of Rocky Hill.

Instead, McCarthy was advised to undertake his backup plan, which will be to repave Hockanum Road/ Route 47 from Mitch’s Way south to the South Hadley town line.

The board’s unanimous decision came as McCarthy explained the conflict. Though his preference would be to mill and repave Rocky Hill from near East Street to Huntington Road due to the extensive wear on the road, and where have potholes have recently been patched, he doesn’t want to do that work only to have it torn up in the coming years.

“There's some severe water main problems on Rocky Hill Road,” McCarthy said. “In a perfect world, you'd want to do the water main road work first before you pave the road.”

Select Board member Randy Izer said more potholes exist on Hockanum Road than on Rocky Hill Road, so doing the work there is sensible.

“I think Plan B, under the circumstances, is a better idea,” Izer said.

McCarthy said repairing and replacing the pipes below Rocky Hill would be a a $1.5 to $2 million project, if extended from River Drive/ Route 47 to Breckenridge Road. 

“I'd like to do something there, but it might not be in our best interest to do so with the condition of the utilities underneath,” McCarthy said.

“I think we should wait and make a good decision of what our future steps are going to be to do infrastructure work,” McCarthy added.

Select Board member Molly Keegan said the town’s financial management team may have to see if any funding options exist to do Rocky Hill Road sooner rather than later. A long-term plan could be developed depending on the funding options and resources available.

The discussion at the board’s May 18 meeting, and after construction season has already begun, came because McCarthy is doing catch-up work after replacing previous director Chris Okafor over the winter. McCarthy said he and DPW staff have been able to put funding sources back in order, and get the full reimbursement of Chapter 90 money to go toward paving.

McCarthy also explained that time is of the essence, as he would like to get any work done by June 30 under the current asphalt buying contract, which will save a $5 per ton surcharge on asphalt.

The decision not to do Rocky Hill comes, though as the already busy road with people traveling to and from the University of Massachusetts campus could pick up even more traffic as the Route 9 widening project continues.

McCarthy said the constant pounding of the road and increased load will only make the situation worse. “The road's in pretty bad shape,” he said.

Select Board member Joyce Chunglo also asked whether any upgrades to Rocky Hill could include speed humps or some other means of slowing traffic down. McCarthy said his preference is not to use those, since it will make plowing the road more difficult in the winter.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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