Heavy traffic expected around UMass commencement ceremonies

  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst campus GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/11/2021 4:43:37 PM

AMHERST – Undergraduate and graduate commencements at the University of Massachusetts could bring a significant amount of traffic through Northampton and into Hadley and Amherst later this week.

UMass Police is warning that beginning Thursday afternoon when the graduate commencement is held, and lasting throughout the day Friday, when more than 6,500 undergraduates get their diplomas, the volume of vehicles will be substantial, and some roads will be closed.

Even with the uptick in people coming to town, though, Amherst officials are confident there won’t be traffic delays.

“We expect traffic to be heavy on commencement day during the schedule of events, but anticipate a good flow with this in mind,” Brianna Sunryd, the town’s communications manager, said.

The notable exception, she said, is that there will be no northbound traffic allowed on University Drive from Amity Street beginning at 8 a.m. Friday until one hour after the final undergraduate commencement exercises.

The graduate commencement begins at 4 p.m. Thursday at Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Starting at 2:30 p.m., traffic on University Drive will be restricted to buses between Massachusetts Avenue and Amity Street.

Anyone coming to this commencement should use Route 116 to get to the UMass exit. Vehicles will then be directed to lots surrounding the stadium.

The staggered undergraduate commencements program takes place at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m., also at the stadium, with UMass men’s hockey coach Greg Carvel joining Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy in addressing the students.

In addition to the traffic on University Drive being restricted to buses between Massachusetts Avenue and Amity Street at 7:30 a.m., Rocky Hill Road between University Drive and North Maple Street will have limited access. As with the graduate ceremony, vehicles will be routed to UMass via the Route 116 exit.

Commencement comes as the state’s Department of Transportation announced Tuesday a revised schedule for ongoing work taking place at the roundabout at Route 9, Damon Road and Interstate 91. Lane closures from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. are necessary during paving operations. The revision limits the anticipated conflicts.

MassDOT Spokeswoman Kristen Pennucci said the ongoing work will wrap up for the weekend Thursday afternoon. Signs, police details and electronic message boards will direct drivers through the work zone.

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

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