No date set yet for building roundabout

  • Looking south at the intersection of North King Street (Rt. 5), left, and Hatfield Street, right, in Northampton, where a roundabout is planned. Photographed on Thursday, June 25, 2020. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/11/2020 6:29:01 PM

NORTHAMPTON — There is still no set date for construction of the roundabout at the intersection of Hatfield and North King streets.

Previously, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said construction could start as early as Aug. 6, but the agency said last week it would not be starting then and that the public will get at least two weeks’ notice before construction starts.

“MassDOT is continuing to work with all our partners to advance this review, but no work will commence until it is complete,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

According to an archeological dig done last fall, the roundabout would go through a Native American site that’s at least 8,000 years old.

Mark Andrews — tribal cultural resources monitor for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head who was at the Northampton dig last fall — said the groups involved are coming up with an archeological site avoidance and protection plan. “Until we’ve developed that plan, nothing is going to happen,” he said.

The site was found to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in May 2019, according to a spokesperson from the Federal Highway Administration, which is advising on the roundabout project and decided it was eligible for the listing. Fifteen Northampton sites — including the Fort Hill Historic District and the Dorsey-Jones House, once the home of two escaped slaves — are listed in the register’s database.

Though the Native American site was found eligible, it was not recommended to be on the register. “Being eligible/listed means that adverse effects to that property are considered during project planning,” the Federal Highway Administration spokesperson wrote in an email, “but does not confer any specific protections and does not require a specific outcome.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.
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