Easthampton in early stages of $13.9M plan to overhaul Main Street

  • Easthampton City Planner Jeff Bagg, left, and Dan Murphy, city engineer, stand at Campus Lane and Main Street, a dangerous intersection where pedestrians have to cross four lanes of traffic. Improvements to this intersection will likely be made as part of a big Main Street overhaul still in its early stages of design. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Left, Nicole Columbia, Nicole Leavitt and Lauryn Dickson make their way across Campus Lane in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/2/2022 8:14:20 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The city is about to embark on the beginning stages of an estimated $13.9 million infrastructure project to redesign one of its main thoroughfares.

Starting next week, land surveyors will be establishing the existing conditions on Main Street/Route 10 from the Manhan River bridge to the intersection of Main and Park streets, according to City Engineer Daniel Murphy. The project scope also includes the rotary and a portion of Pleasant Street.

“This is a big deal, but it’s still in the early stages,” City Planner Jeff Bagg said. “We wanted to let people know the project is starting and surveyors will be out about next week. It’s really an important time to be beginning the next large infrastructure project.”

The goal of the project, which is still three to four years from breaking ground, is to create a Main Street with improved safety, transit, walking, bicycle infrastructure, street trees, green infrastructure and employ designs that make the city’s downtown safer, functional and aesthetically pleasing.

“Easthampton’s continual efforts to have projects in the waiting again pays off,” Mayor Nicole LaChapelle said in a statement. “Our Main Street project reduces physical barriers across the board from safety to environment.”

The Campus Lane crosswalk is a key location where improvements to pedestrian safety are needed, said Murphy. The crossing is 90 feet through four traffic lanes, he said.

“This is a place where traffic calming can be used to slow traffic and make the crossing much safer,” he said. “Also, the right of way for Main Street is wider than Union and Cottage, meaning there’s more space to make safety improvements, better accommodate bicycles and pedestrians as required by the state’s Department of Transportation requirements, and also increase green space.”

The project will be led by Pennsylvania-based transportation and engineering firm, McMahon Associates Inc.

The project builds off the City’s 2017 Complete Street Prioritization Plan as well as the 2020 Downtown Strategic Plan and will complement the enhancements to Cottage Street, Main Street, Ferry Street, the work underway on Union Street, the planned improvements to Holyoke Street, Payson Avenue and Park Street, which include bicycle and pedestrian improvements to connect the rail trail to the new Mountain View School.

Much like the ongoing Union Street project, the majority of the Main Street project is being funded by the state Department of Transportation’s Transportation Improvement Program.

“This project, however, is definitely a much bigger undertaking than Union Street,” said Murphy, who noted that the estimated price tag for Union Street is more than $5 million.

Assessments and mapping of underground utilities will occur in the fall.

As one of the oldest sections of Easthampton, much of underground pipes for sewer and water have never been replaced and are likely more than 100 years old, he added.

“Now is the perfect time to get a better look at that aging infrastructure,” said Murphy. “The city would be required to pay for any replacement of that underground infrastructure.”

Bagg also noted that the project is of particular importance given the future growth of Old Town Hall.

Murphy said that the process required by the Transportation Improvement Program is lengthy and requires steps that include a 25% design public hearing, which won’t take place until the spring or summer of 2024.

“We’ll be looking for community thoughts and feedback on how best to use the public spaces. There will be multiple opportunities for Easthampton residents to share thoughts as the project proceeds,” he said.

Based on the current project timeline, construction is not expected to occur until 2026.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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