NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A redesign of downtown Northampton includes reducing travel lanes and parking spots, as well as adding bicycle lanes and widening sidewalks along Main Street.
The project is called “Picture Main Street” and its purpose is to provide improvements for safe and accessible options for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers. However, Northampton Mayor Sciarra has issued a document to address public concerns and any misconceptions.
The document includes answers to frequently asked questions for Picture Main Street by the Mayor’s Office in coordination with Planning & Sustainability. The City is also committed to addressing the concerns of residents and businesses who contact the Mayor’s office at 413-587-1249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It is important that everyone understands what questions and issues have been raised, discussed, and vetted to get us to and through the 25% design phase of this project. Thus, we are making many of the most commonly repeated questions and their answers available to all,” shared Mayor Sciarra. “We are excited to be moving forward toward the detailed design phase, marking another milestone of this project for our community and our downtown, which is the 75% design.”
Reduce traffic lanes
The section between Masonic and Gothic Streets on Main Street that has four lanes will be reduced to three-vehicle travel lanes with expanded sidewalks, separated bike lanes, and angled parking. This alternative was approved by MassDOT.
Reduce parking spots
One of the concerns amongst the community was reducing parking by 57 spots in the downtown area. Due to multiple studies, the consultants found that even during peak hours, there are available parking spots “within a few blocks” of Main Street. In addition, the 57 parking spots are the same number that is taken for outdoor dining.
The FAQs also addressed angled parking space concerns stating that some will still be available and an addition of two accessible parking spots.
Creating bike lanes
As part of the state’s Complete Street Program, it “provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes – walking, biking, transit, and vehicles – for people of all ages and abilities.” The survey conducted in 2020 identified redesigns for dedicated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and high-visibility crosswalks amongst others.
The City is collaborating with businesses in the downtown area to lessen the impact of the project. The phased construction will take place over three seasons and during quieter periods of activity. The City’s economic development team is working on events to attract people downtown during the construction phases.
The proposed design of the traffic study was submitted to MassDOT in January 2021. It is projected to receive $19.2 million from the federal and state governments. The final design timeline is expected in 2024 with construction to begin in 2025.
WWLP-22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in 1953 by providing local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts. Follow 22News on X @WWLP22News, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.