NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – MassDOT has terminated the current construction contract for the Northampton Roundabout Project at the intersection of North King Street and Hatfield Street and will take on a re-evaluation of the project design.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation made the announcement Tuesday in a news release sent to 22News.
According to MassDOT, after they held a Virtual Public Information Meeting on February 17, as part of the public process, they received many public comments on the project and proposed location. The majority of the comments were opposing the project due to its impacts on an archaeological site.
The intersection is near an archaeological site containing Native American artifacts verified to be more than 10,000 years-old.
22News spoke with John Skibiski, who owned the land where the artifacts were found and said it’s a step in the right direction because historical sites cannot be replaced. He and his son Greg started a petition that garnered over 50,000 signatures in opposition to the roundabout.
“There is no need of destroying a historical site of that time period. Its exceedingly rare and it should be preserved,” Skibiski told 22News.
MassDOT was not able to minimize the opposition during the public process and as a result, they decided to terminate the contract and take on a re-evaluation project. The re-evaluation will allow MassDOT to consider previously unforeseen circumstances, including a more extensive review of the impacts of any work on a local site of archeological significance.
MassDOT feels the re-evaluation option is responsive to the public comments that were received, which asked MassDOT to consider alternatives that avoided the location of the archaeological site. This re-evaluation will take public opposition into account as key evaluation criteria for all design alternatives considered.
Local Native American tribes including the Narragansett have also called for the preservation of the site to protect their cultural resources.
This project will reconstruct the intersection of North King Street and Hatfield Street in Northampton to alleviate operational and safety deficiencies at the intersection. The project may also include roadway improvements to provide multimodal accommodations along Hatfield Street and North King Street.