EASTHAMPTON — After advocacy from the Easthampton City Council, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has approved speed limit reductions of 5 to 10 miles per hour on Northampton Street.

“The city is confident that lowering speed limits will have a positive effect on the safety of all road users and average speeds,” said Lindsi Sekula, executive assistant to the mayor. “The speed limit changes will slow traffic in the corridor and improve safety.”

The new speed limits will be 30 mph from West Street to just north of Aubuchon Hardware, previously 35 and 40 mph, and 35 mph from there to the Northampton city line, previously 45 miles per hour.

The changes come after a review of the roadway following the deaths of Ilona Murray and Edward Hanlon while crossing the road in August 2022. In 2023, the law changed and allowed cities and towns to request lower speed limits on state roadways. After City Engineer Dan Murphy studied the data and found that Northampton Street saw 16% of all Easthampton crashes, many of them serious and involving pedestrians, he created a proposal to lower all of the speed limits by 10 miles per hour. After review and approval from the police and fire chiefs, as well as the DPW director, the proposal went to the City Council where it was approved. After the mayor’s signature, it went to the state traffic engineer and was approved in varying degrees.

This may be just the start of making Easthampton’s roads safer. The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission recently won a Safe Streets For All Grant.

Easthampton will prepare a priority plan for the grant soon, which “will be a comprehensive review of data and intersection and road infrastructure to identify our least safe intersections and roads, particularly regarding the safety of people walking and cycling,” explained Murphy. “Easthampton remains committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of its residents across all neighborhoods.”

In addition, two projects are planned for construction in 2027 and 2028 that would provide calming and safe infrastructure for people walking and cycling on Main and Northampton streets.

“We ask that all people driving within our city please use care, honor speed limits, and never use a handheld phone while driving,” said Murphy. “Fatalities of people walking have risen greatly in the country since 2010, especially at night, and we ask people driving to be careful at all times to make Easthampton a safer place for everybody.”

Tina Lesniak
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