WE ARE HOMETOWN NEWS.

Ludlow Construction tackles the sidewalk on Memorial Drive by the Big E campus in West Springfield on May 3.

Reminder Publishing photo by Tyler Lederer

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Construction season has begun in the Pioneer Valley, and Traffic and Safety Committee Chair Brian Griffin’s phone has been busy. Construction, he said, is happening not just in West Springfield, but Chicopee, Springfield and Westfield, as well.

“It feels like the Big Dig around here because everybody’s just stopped in traffic,” he said, referencing the 16-year project to convert Boston’s elevated highways to tunnels.

Caracas Construction works on the Elm Street rotary project by the Shell gas station on Westfield Street (Route 20).
Reminder Publishing photo by Tyler Lederer

In particular, he’s received calls from downtown businesses, who say they have suffered because of construction on the Elm Street rotary. Griffin and Councilor Brian Clune have been encouraging people to continue patronizing the businesses, which he called partners of and investors in the town.

He recommended parking in the Central Street municipal parking lot, which can be accessed from Van Deene Avenue without having to drive on Elm Street, and walking over. Parking is currently banned at the Elm and Westfield Street intersection between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“If you can go out of your way to visit these downtown businesses and keep them vibrant, that would be helpful to them,” he said.

The project will install a rotary at the intersection of Elm and Westfield streets, and the sidewalks would be widened in the area. The project will also narrow Elm Street to one lane approaching the rotary on both sides. The land reclaimed from traffic lanes will be filled with green space, trees, picnic tables, benches and light fixtures.

Mayor William Reichelt said the rotary was a traffic calming measure “to slow drivers and improve safety for pedestrians,” he said.

The latest cost estimate, according to Town Engineer Connor Knightly, is $3.8 million. The town will pay for it with a Massachusetts Gaming Commission grant; money from the Complete Streets Funding Program; and Chapter 90 funds, state aid for local road projects.

In an April 26 press release, the town announced that trucks will be banned from driving on Elm Street from Park Street to Kings Highway, and on Westfield Street (Route 20) from Elm Street to Van Deene Avenue, until July 1, unless they are delivering to places in the area.

Caracas Construction will perform excavation, road construction and curb work in the next three months, Knightly said. Paving should happen in early or mid-July, he said, though any wet weather could delay that. After that, minor work on the intersection should continue until October.

Knightly said Caracas Construction is working on an “ambitious schedule.”

“They understand it’s an important and busy intersection so they want to be as minimally disruptive as possible,” he said.

The DPW is running a continuously updating construction calendar at shorturl.at/nCU57.

In a May 3 press release, the DPW announced that construction will occur on the weekends in order to speed it up and reduce how long it impacts traffic. The release also asks residents whose trash is picked up on Friday to put it out before 6 a.m. that day, as the Elm Street project has required pickup to happen earlier than usual. It also reminds residents that downtown businesses are still open, and recommends not only parking at the Central Street lot, but also the Coburn School lot on Southworth Street.

Memorial and Riverdale

Work is also continuing on Memorial Avenue (Route 147). That project involves water and sewer work, repaving the road and installing new sidewalks, curbs, and a multi-use path from Gate 1 of the Eastern States Exposition to Circuit Avenue. The project will also make Bresnahan Street, which wraps around the Morning Star Bookstore building to connect Main Street to Memorial Avenue, a two-way road.

Construction on Memorial Avenue reduced traffic to two lanes on May 3.
Reminder Publishing photo by Tyler Lederer

Ludlow Construction started on the project in spring 2023, Knightly said, by replacing three water mains with a single pipe running from the Morgan Sullivan Bridge to the Memorial Avenue-Union Street intersection. It’s likely the entire project will be mostly complete by fall 2025 and fully complete in spring 2026, he said, depending on the weather.

The project has an over $20 million cost estimate, but will be paid fully by the state, said Griffin.

Construction is also starting this year on Riverdale Street (Route 5) between the Holyoke line and Interstate 91.

“The project involves concrete surface restoration, asphalt shoulder repaving, sidewalk relaying, as well as the construction of shared-use paths, intersection layout and signal improvements, and improvements to the stormwater system,” Knightly said.

It will also involve a water main replacement, and installing new sidewalks from south of Morgan Road to Elm Street, he said.

Ludlow Construction is currently gathering materials and mobilizing on site, he said. Construction will begin this spring, he said, and could last until spring 2027, weather dependent as always.

The project was bid out for $53,546,148, the majority of which is the state Department of Transportation’s responsibility. West Springfield bonded $7 million for the water main replacement, which it added to the project as a cost-saving measure.

“This will save the town millions of dollars as opposed to replacing the water main as a standalone project,” said Knightly.

The town saves money because it will pay for the water infrastructure only, and won’t have to pay to dig up or repave the road, as those are already part of the state project.

Millions more

On top of those projects, West Springfield is also completing $4.5 million in resurfacing projects and $1.5 million in sidewalk projects.

According to a list provided by the DPW, a total of 32 streets are being paved this year. This includes Kings Highway, from the eastern edge of St. Thomas Cemetery to Amostown Road; Massachusetts Avenue, from Amostown Road to Morton Street, and Circle Drive. Circle Drive work, the document said, will begin when schools are on summer break. In the May 3 press release, the DPW said it would be working on Kings Highway and Gooseberry Road the week of the May 6, and Apple Ridge Road and Sheridan Avenue the week after.

The list can be found at townofwestspringfield.org/Business/Public-Works. The DPW has a continuously updated paving calendar at shorturl.at/elwFN.

Knightly also said sidewalk work is happening at Sawmill Road, Edgewood Drive, Valley View Circle and Circle Drive. The sidewalk work at Piper, Amoston and Morton Roads; and Monastery Avenue will be finished this summer, he said. The sidewalks planned for Birnie Avenue and Sibley Avenue are in the design phase.

Adjacent to Mittineague Park, the town is also planning to install sidewalks and more speed bumps at Harwich Road, from Westfield Street to Churchill Road, and to modify the intersection of Harwich and Churchill to prevent speeding. Reichelt said the latter was a traffic calming project.

The town also wants to make safety improvements from Amostown to Morgan Road, and to the Amostown-Piper Road intersection.

“A conceptual design is underway to make the intersection safer,” said Reichelt.

Griffin said on May 6 that cameras will be set up at that intersection on May 15 to study traffic patterns.

Neither Reichelt nor Knightly would go into detail as to how the intersection might be reconfigured. Knightly said the design work should be finished this year and the town should get funding for it next year.

tlederer@thereminder.com | + posts