Expanded rail trail crosswalk at Payson Avenue in Easthampton getting underway

By EMILY THURLOW

Staff Writer

Published: 04-26-2023 4:44 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Construction of a new raised crosswalk for the Manhan Rail Trail on Payson Avenue begins this week.

The crosswalk is part of a larger collaborative effort among the city’s Planning Department, Department of Public Works and mayor’s office aimed at improving pedestrian safety.

“The Manhan Rail Trail crosses several roads. The goal of several of our city planning documents is to make the crossings of the rail trail safer,” said City Planner Jeff Bagg. “It builds on the pedestrian safety improvements on the Ferry Street Manhan Rail Trail crossing and the soon-to-be completed raised crossing for the Manhan Rail Trail as part of the Union Street project.”

Bagg noted that this project will help slow vehicles on Payson Avenue and provide enhanced safety for users of the rail trail.

Led by Ludlow contractor NC Inc., formerly The Nunes Cos. Inc., the majority of the project should be completed by Memorial Day.

In addition to the raised sidewalk, the project will include two rectangular rapid flashing beacons, and minor adjustment to the corner of Railroad Street that will provide access to those who use wheelchairs, a new 10-foot-wide sidewalk along Payson Avenue in front of the Public Safety Complex to better connect the rail trail to downtown, and the installation of ramps accessible to wheelchairs that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

A new bicycle rack will also be installed outside of the city’s Municipal Building.

Additionally, the road from the Manhan Rail Trail to Union Street will be milled and paved, and granite curbs will be reset. The sidewalks beside the police station and the city’s Municipal Building will also be repaired.

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While the total project cost is still being finalized, Bagg said it is anticipated to be around $530,000. That estimate does include police traffic details.

The project is partially funded by a $200,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation’s Shared Streets and Spaces program. The project is also funded with $160,000 from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The original project including the raised crossing and sidewalk work was estimated at $318,000.

After looking more closely into the project, Bagg said the city opted to add repairs to a section of sidewalk, reset additional granite curbs and make minor extensions to the mill and pave areas to match up with the Union Street project.

The additional work is proposed in a $170,000 supplemental appropriation request from free cash to make the project more comprehensive, Bagg said.

This projects support the forthcoming Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School project, which will connect the Manhan Rail Trail to Mountain View School via a connection of the rail trail to Park Street and a new 8- to 10-foot sidewalk along Park Street, he added.

The Safe Routes to School project, which was awarded $1.9 million in state funding, includes the construction of a 400-foot accessible multiuse path connection from the rail trail to Park Street and a 3,600-foot, 8-foot-wide side path along Park Street to the entrance of the existing White Brook Middle and future Mountain View School. It also includes the installation of handicapped-accessible ramps and crosswalks at four street crossings, new ramps at 19 driveways, and the narrowing of 1,300 feet of Park Street through new pavement markings that will aid in traffic calming. Construction is expected to be completed in 2026.

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