Northampton, Hadley road projects bring traffic delays, inconvenience

  • Employees from Gomes Construction work at the intersection of Pleasant and Conz Tuesday, August 2, 2016 in Northampton. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker—Andrew J. Whitaker

  • Employees from Gomes Construction work at the intersection of Pleasant and Conz Tuesday, August 2, 2016 in Northampton. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker—Andrew J. Whitaker

  • Employees from Gomes Construction work at the intersection of Pleasant and Conz streets Tuesday in Northampton. The summer roadwork season is creating traffic tie-ups here and on Route 9 in Hadley. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker

  • Excavators are parked along Russell Street at the village center during a road resurfacing and widening project Tuesday in Hadley. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker

  • Cars drive down Russell during construction to the road Tuesday, August 2, 2016 in Hadley. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker—Andrew J. Whitaker

  • Construction workers dig up the road off of Russell Tuesday, August 2, 2016 in Hadley. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker—Andrew J. Whitaker

@achryssovergis
Published: 8/2/2016 10:57:27 PM

Road construction projects in Northampton and Hadley are creating bumpy messes and traffic delays, though many commuters say they see the work as a necessary and temporary inconvenience.

Two projects — a $2.2 million roundabout at Conz and Pleasant streets in Northampton and a $3 million road widening on Route 9 in Hadley — are being managed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

The state agency did not respond to requests for updated information on the projects Tuesday, but earlier estimates said work on both will continue through late 2017.

For now, commuters, workers and surrounding business owners struggle with the inconveniences of the work, some of which have been heightened after a stretch of rainy days.

Hadley widening

“Rain over the past few days has really deteriorated conditions,” said Sgt. Mitchell Kuc of the Hadley Police Department. “We’ve been asking people to try to seek alternate routes.”

A rainy weekend turned the dry and exposed dirt road bed into a muddy string of puddles and potholes. Kuc said complaints about the state of the road have poured in.

The project will widen Russell Street and replace 100-year-old water pipes beneath the asphalt. The town of Hadley is responsible for the pipes, paying about $260,000 towards the project, and MassDOT is responsible for the road widening.

There are many ways to circumvent the construction, including using Bay Road and Railroad Street, which could allow citizens to avoid the rougher patches and save their cars wear and tear, according to police.

The work between Whalley and Middle streets is messy because the gravel and dirt beneath the road are being replaced in addition to the asphalt, Kuc said. However, the bulk of the mess should be cleared in time for the back-to-school rush.

“There should be pavement on this by the end of August,” Kuc said.

This is one of many projects set to revamp Route 9 in the next few years, said David Nixon, the town administrator.

“There’s work planned in Northampton in 2018, and in 2020 there is a plan for work on an additional section of Route 9 in Hadley, from the Farm Museum to the East Street intersection.”

The current project is slated to be completed in September 2017, Nixon said.

“The rest of the work will be on the final pavement, curb work, line painting, and all the additional things that go into making a road that’s going to be safe for pedestrians and motorists,” Nixon said.

Northampton roundabout

Richard Taylor, a 31-year-old Longmeadow resident who travels several states inspecting gas stations, comes to the Shell station that lies in the middle of the Conz-Pleasant streets construction about once a month.

“I was always wondering when they were gonna do something about this,” Taylor said of the roundabout installation.

It traditionally has been difficult to leave the gas station due to traffic flow, Taylor said, adding that he always thought something should be done to change the situation.

“The inconvenience will hopefully be worth it,” he said.

The station’s manager, Maggie Costa, said the work has slowed down business during construction hours.

Fewer people are turning left into the gas station coming out of Northampton, Costa said, because they are afraid they will not be able to get back out.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the construction has sectioned off one lane where workers are digging to make room for the roundabout. As a result, the other lane has been sliced by the cones into two parts, making it tricky for drivers to turn left anywhere through the barriers.

It has brought traffic to a crawl during rush hours in both directions and at other times of day.

Sometimes the cone barriers are too close together so that it looks like his car won’t be able to fit through them, said Michael Perkins, manager at the Spare Time bowling alley on Pleasant Street.

But while the roadwork may be irritating now, it will have a long-term gain, Perkins said.

“It’s challenging, to say the least,” he said.

Spare Time has done its best to let customers know it remains open during its normal hours, the manager said. It’s difficult for him to tell how much the construction is affecting the business because summer is usually a slow time.

Perkins said that with the construction, sometimes it’s tough for food delivery workers to get into the Spare Time parking lot, which can pose a problem, seeing as customers often order food or drinks to be brought to their groups at the bowling alley.

Ed Korza, an Amherst resident and a regular at Spare Time, isn’t letting the construction stop him from bowling, but he did take an alternative route to the alley Tuesday morning so as to avoid as much of it as possible.

“It’s one of the worst necessary evils,” Korza said.


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