Potentially overlapping road projects concern Hadley officials

Staff Writer
Published: 1/13/2020 11:17:25 PM
Modified: 1/13/2020 11:16:39 PM

HADLEY — With a Route 9 widening project from town center to the shopping malls and the replacement of the bridge on Bay Road over the Fort River both scheduled to begin in 2022, town officials are trying to convince the state that the work should be done on different timelines.

Town Administrator David Nixon informed the Select Board at its Wednesday meeting that the state Department of Transportation is still developing a schedule and hasn’t yet determined when contractors would break ground on the work.

But Nixon said he, along with University of Massachusetts representatives, are discussing how to ease likely congestion and the potential for traffic tie-ups related to the projects, as both routes are used by commuters getting to and from the Interstate 91 corridor and the flagship campus.

“That is definitely still a concern,” Nixon said.

Nixon added that it will also take “shoving and pushing” to convince the state that the projects should be done sequentially, even though it’s in nobody’s interest in have both east-west throughways impeded by active construction, he said.

In late December, the so-called 75 percent design plans for Bay Road were unveiled, paving the way for the $5.71 million project, funded through the 2021 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for the Pioneer Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization, to begin in 2022.

Previously, the bridge had a traffic light and alternating east-west traffic in 2016 and 2017, during a project to shore up the timber pilings. The bridge could be closed entirely for the next project.

The $25.6 million for the Route 9 project is on the same TIP and would add a dedicated third lane for vehicles making left turns, along with new bicycle lanes and sidewalks, from Middle Street to South Maple Street.

Nixon said even though both are at the 75 percent design state, land taking, environmental permitting and land surveys will all take time. Bids for Bay Road will go out, at the earliest, in December 2021.

David J. Fill II, on his official Select Board Facebook page, wrote that there is urgency for residents and officials to get in touch with legislators about the roadwork.

“Not only will this create traffic nightmares in town but I would expect police, fire, and ambulance response times to suffer as well,” Fill wrote.

The Select Board may ask state Sen. Jo Comerford and state Rep. Dan Carey to advocate on behalf of not having overlapping schedules.

Previously, a DOT spokesperson said the Route 9 project would not begin until after the state completes work on a new roundabout for Exit 19 off Interstate 91 at Damon Road in Northampton. That project is supposed to be finished sometime in 2021.

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


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