WESTFIELD – This afternoon a press release was issued by both the Mayor of Westfield, Brian Sullivan, and the City’s Chief Enineer, Mark Cressotti, on the latest with the reconstruction project of Western Avenue.
In development for more than three years, the project has been the subject of four community meetings and spirited discussion from neighborhood residents, transportation advocates, and state transportation officials, among others. Most recently, project modifications were presented to the public at a community forum on January 26 at South Middle School.
The Western Avenue reconstruction project has been broken into two phases: The first phase will extend from the vicinity of Llewellyn Drive eastward to the Lloyds Hill intersection, the second phase will reach from Lloyds Hill to Court Street.
The project will allow for full-depth reconstruction of pavement, introduction of turning lanes in certain locations, installation of stormwater control, reconstruction of sidewalks and curbing, and installation of a ten-foot wide multi-use path on the northern side of Western Avenue.
“The Western Avenue project is primarily a federally- and state-funded project,” Sullivan said. “Certainly, the road surface and stormwater management systems are in dire need of upgrade, and federal funding will help us to accomplish this.”
Of course, with acceptance of federal and state funds for the project, the City is required to meet certain design standards. In meetings throughout December, state officials made clear their commitment to the “Complete Streets” initiative, which tasks engineers with providing safe and accessible options for all travel modes – walking, biking, transit and vehicles – for people of all ages and abilities. The design of Western Avenue is subject to these standards.
“Over the past three years, the City has worked hard to communicate with abutters, Western Avenue residents, and elected leaders, Councilors O’Connell and Surprise, to accept their input and work to modify the design to the best of our ability,” Cressotti said. “I think we’ve reached a fair compromise, which takes into account the desire line of the neighborhood to maintain its historical charm with the requirements of MassDOT to accommodate other modes of transportation.”
During design development, several changes have been made to the project, most notably the relocation of the multi-use path from the southern side of the roadway to the northern side.
Both from a design standpoint and from a practical standpoint, the relocation made sense as it minimized conflict between the path and street and driveway crossings, according to engineers.
The project is scheduled for funding in Federal Fiscal Year 2017 and it is estimated to cost $3.75 million.
“I believe that this consultation with the neighborhood has resulted in a better project,” Sullivan said. “While some concerns remain, I am pleased to have reached a consensus that the roadway is in need of repair and that this project presents our best opportunity to address these needs with state and federal assistance.”
An official 25 percent design hearing will be held later this year, where additional public comment will be gathered.