Taming a road’s dangers: Redesign of Route 10 in Easthampton in works


Staff Writer

Published: 01-06-2023 5:53 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Five months after a city couple was struck and killed by a vehicle along Route 10, state transportation officials said this week that a major redesign of the busy corridor — home to numerous accidents over the years — is in the works.

Such a project, which is still in the early stages, would help quell yearslong complaints that the stretch from West Street to the Northampton border is too dangerous for both motorists and pedestrians.

One of the intersections along that stretch of state highway, at West and Northampton streets, has often been cited as among the most dangerous in the region, according to state crash data.

“That corridor has been on my radar for my entire life,” said Rep. Daniel Carey, a native of Easthampton. “We’re all focused on making that stretch of land as safe as possible.”

Carey and state Sen. John Velis, D-Westfield, in a Nov. 21 letter to then-Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler, implored the state to fully fund the improvement project for the Route 10 corridor.

“In addition to the increased safety, the project unlocks the full economic potential of Route 10 in Easthampton,” the letter reads. “The city stands ready to welcome several new businesses to the area including a Starbucks which will provide 15 new jobs, and a mixed-use development that includes much needed child care and 80 units of diverse income housing.”

The legislators are referring to a proposed $26-$30 million mixed-use residential and commercial center at the former Tasty Top site at 93-97 Northampton St. The project, which is still before the Planning Board, calls for 188 apartments — 54 of which would be affordable — spread across nine 18-unit buildings, and two mixed-use buildings with ground floor retail or commercial and apartments above — 12 units in one building and 14 in the other.

Other plans for the site include an approximately 9,000-square-foot Roots Learning Center, a 7,000-square-foot Roots Gymnastic Center, two sit-down restaurants, and two 13,600-square-foot mixed-use warehouse buildings.

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The development comes on the heels of the deaths of Edward Hanlon Jr. and Ilona Murray, who were struck and killed on Aug. 2 while crossing Northampton Street in the area of Burger King next to the old Tasty Top location. No charges have been filed and the case is still under investigation, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office.

The state highway’s increased usage has led to a reemergence of talks about how to make the road safer. MassDOT officials this week confirmed that the agency is in the early stages of its Route 10 design project from West Street to the Northampton city line, according to spokesperson Kristen Pennucci.

Although there is no estimated cost, Pennucci said the scope of the project will improve accommodations for all road users and follow a “complete streets” design.

“The roadway will be resurfaced and widened for improved bicycle accommodations, new and reconstructed sidewalks are proposed for improved pedestrian access, and new wheelchair ramps and crosswalks will be installed,” she wrote in an email. “Other work will consist of improved drainage, signage, pavement markings, and other features.”

Pennucci noted that MassDOT has not been formally approached about the large development at the old Tasty Top site, and any development or business that would affect state highways would have to go through the permitting process at the state level.

“As of now, that process has not been initiated,” she said.

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