February 28, 2022
City of Easthampton awarded between $1.5-$1.875 million infrastructure grant from Safe Routes to School for Park Street.
The City of Easthampton was recently awarded an infrastructure grant from the MassDOT Safe Routes to School program. The project will enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements along Park Street from the Manhan Rail Trail to the new Mountain View PreK-8 school.
“This grant is a partnership between the School Department, Planning Department, DPW and the Mayor’s Office and will enhance the route along Park Street to be safer for kids, families, and residents to get to the new Mountain View School. It represents continued investment into Easthampton Public Schools infrastructure and will open up opportunities for students from across town to safely get to the new school by walking or biking”, said Dr. Allison LeClair Superintendent of Easthampton Public Schools.
The project includes the construction of a 400-foot-long accessible multiuse path connection from the existing Manhan Rail Trail up to Park Street. It will also include a 3,600-foot-long, eight-foot-wide sidepath along Park Street to the entrance of the new Mountain View School entrance, new ADA ramps and crosswalks at four street crossings (Ward Avenue, Garfield Avenue, Bryan Avenue, and Taft Avenue), new ADA ramps at 19 driveways and some adjustments to Park Street including new pavement markings and traffic calming.
“The decision to focus on Park Street was based on it being the main route to the new school and upgrading it first will serve the largest number of students and neighborhoods north of the new school. The connection to Manhan Rail Trail is critical to allow students living in the Pleasant Green neighborhood, for example, to get to the school without a car and along safe route. We are grateful that MassDOT has chosen our project out of a competitive list. Unlike the Union Street project, MassDOT will pay for all design work and nearly all the project costs; the City will need to pay for legal costs, utility relocation, and acquisition of any land needed”, said Mayor Nicole LaChapelle.
The Park Street sidepath is the largest piece of the route to complete and will bolster other efforts to upgrade pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements including the Ferry Street rail trail crossing completed last year, the Union Street rail trail crossing to be begin at part of the MassDOT TIP project this year, a planned upgrade to the rail trail crossing at Payson Avenue using Mass DOT Shared Streets and Spaces, planned upgrades for crosswalks on Holyoke Street, and ongoing and planned improvements to the intersection of South and Main Street.
“Connecting the Manhan Rail Trail to neighborhoods and schools has been a long term goal and has been identified in many of the City’s long term planning documents. This is part of a concerted effort to identify and prioritize new upgraded access to the new school that began in 2018/2019. This project along with other routes including enhanced trail access from the new school and Nonotuck and the High School will take years to complete but are being planned now”, said City Planner Jeff Bagg
The project will not start construction until 2025 at the earliest and must follow the robust MassDOT process which will include: a stakeholder meeting in the spring/early summer of 2022, 25-75% design public hearings in 2023/2024, final design and project bidding in 2025, and project completion and ribbon cutting in 2026. During this time the project design may change from what was identified in the Feasibility Study.