State vows to clear snow and ice on all new sidewalks on Route 9 in Hadley

  • A section of Russell Street (Rt. 9) in the center of Hadley, between West and Goffe streets, on Monday, April 9, 2018. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/12/2019 2:03:25 PM
Modified: 7/12/2019 2:03:12 PM

HADLEY — Officials at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation are pledging to remove snow and ice from all new sidewalks and multi-use paths being constructed on Route 9.

Town Administrator David Nixon told the Select Board Wednesday that state representatives say that the state will be maintaining its sidewalks, including both future sidewalks that will be part of a $25 million project to rebuild the state road from the town center east to South Maple Street, and the recently completed sidewalk on the south side of Route 9 between South Maple Street and the Amherst town line.

But it is uncertain whether the state will maintain other sidewalks during the winter, including ones that run from town center west to the Coolidge Bridge.

Nixon said the information was conveyed to residents at a June meeting in which the state showed plans for the Route 9 corridor project.

Having municipal resources go toward clearing snow and ice from sidewalks on Route 9, in particular, the new ones that the state is building or has in planning stages has been a point of contention because of the growing costs that have burdened the town’s Department of Public Works.

The DPW  has traditionally cleared snow and ice from the sidewalks in the historic town center, including those on Middle and West streets and adjacent to public buildings such as Town Hall and Hopkins Academy.

But Select Board member David J. Fill II said this past winter that he and DPW Superintendent Chris Okafor made the decision to not do any plowing or treating of the newest sidewalk.

MassDOT spokesman Patrick Marvin could not confirm that the state will be doing maintenance on the sidewalks. He noted, though, that the Route 9 project is scheduled to be advertised for construction bids in 2021, and that the road, when completed, will include shared-use pathways on each side between Middle Street and South Maple Street.

The Select Board has repeatedly brought a bylaw to Town Meeting with the aim of levying levy fines on property owners who fail to maintain their walkways during the winter months. Passed over at the May 2 annual Town Meeting, the bylaw is being considered for inclusion on the warrant for the special Town Meeting in October.

That would amend an existing bylaw by adopting a rule requiring that property owners remove snow and ice or treat the sidewalk within 24 hours of the end of a storm, or else be subject to fines.

The failure to remove snow has come with problems. Last winter, in particular, in the area of the Hampton Inn Village Shops at 41 Russell St., sidewalks remained covered in snow and ice.

Ann Rick of Northampton said her daughter, who goes to programs at Whole Children at the complex, was unable to use the B43 PVTA bus for more than a month because of the challenges of having unplowed sidewalks and bus pull-offs in that area of the state highway.

As drafted, the new bylaw gives residents and property owners clear instructions on what they must do during the winter: “Snow, ice, or sleet shall be removed from the full width of the sidewalk, including abutting curb cuts/ramps. If the same cannot be wholly removed, said owner shall sprinkle sand or other substance thereon, so the sidewalks shall be safe for travel. Nor shall any person place ice or snow in a street outside the walk.”

A first offense fine begins at $10, increases to $25 on the second offense and is capped at $100 for third and subsequent offenses.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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