EASTHAMPTON — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) joined Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle on June 24 to announce a $960,000 earmark for water infrastructure upgrades along Route 10 in Easthampton.

Neal included the funding for this project in the fiscal year 2024 spending bill that was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 9. This project is one of more than a dozen Congressionally Directed Spending projects submitted by Neal, totaling nearly $15 million in investments throughout the First Congressional District of Massachusetts.

In total, an estimated $175 million in Congressionally Directed Spending will support 159 community projects statewide including more than $106.1 million for transportation, infrastructure, community development and affordable housing, $47.6 million to support public infrastructure including clean drinking water and wastewater projects, $11 million for rural development and $9.8 million for justice and science projects.

The $960,000 earmark for Easthampton will upgrade the city’s water infrastructure along Route 10.

“As a member of Congress, I take great pride in the responsibility that we have in overseeing the expenditure of the public purse. That is why I am pleased to have secured funding for a project that will have a prominent impact on the Easthampton community, providing much needed upgrades to the water infrastructure that will directly benefit the city’s business corridor,” Neal said. “I have long held the belief that members of Congress do not serve under presidents — they serve with presidents. By working with Joe Biden, congressional Democrats have delivered billions of dollars in funding that will address aging infrastructure throughout the nation.”

Undersized and aging underground utilities currently provide water and sewer services to the Northampton Street business district in Easthampton. The city of Easthampton has undertaken the design of a project to replace these aging utilities, which will ensure adequate domestic supply, fire flow an sanitary sewer service for this area for generations.

“This is a horse and buggy highway, literally,” said LaChapelle. “And underneath it are horse and buggy level pipes and those need to be brought up to the present.”

According to LaChapelle, this funding will expand the pipes and increase the strength around them along Route 10. Once the underground water infrastructure work is completed, plans are set for the space on 93-97 Northampton St. along Route 10 to eventually become home for new properties that will include a new Roots Learning and Gymnastic centers, a Grassroots Steakhouse and plans for development of 202 housing units.

“This award shows how Smart Growth Development contributes to a sustainable local economy. Today’s announcement makes possible the full development of an approved mixed-use project that brings jobs and housing while dovetailing into state pedestrian road improvements,” said LaChapelle. “Congressman Neal’s leadership in securing both ARPA and CDS funds unlocks the full development potential in Easthampton’s highway business corridor.”

Peter Graham, an affordable housing consultant at Valley Housing Consultants LLC, emphasized that the public consider such development as “workforce housing” and that housing must be available for essential workers in the workforce.

Additionally with the underground infrastructure plans, safety improvements will also come along Route 10. These will lower speed limits, create new crosswalks, wider roads and sidewalks.