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Roundabout work at GCC to begin in a few weeks

Recorder/Paul Franz
Intersection of Colrain Rd and the entrance to GCC, at left, looking north.

Recorder/Paul Franz Intersection of Colrain Rd and the entrance to GCC, at left, looking north. Purchase photo reprints »

GREENFIELD — Construction of a $1.5 million roundabout meant to improve the intersection at the entrance to Greenfield Community College is expected to begin in coming weeks.

Michael Verseckes, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said Warner Brothers Inc. of Sunderland will build the single-lane rotary at Colrain Street and Colrain Road.

The state’s plan is to reconstruct the intersection to make it safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to travel through that area.

The project, which will take a year to complete, will transform the existing intersection into a one-lane roundabout approximately 120 feet in diameter.

According to Greenfield Community College Director of Facilities Jeffrey Marques, there will be delays and interruptions in the area at times throughout construction, but pedestrian and vehicular access will be maintained for the duration.

Marques said GCC will work closely with the state.

The project will be done in phases, with the first being the construction of several retaining walls off the shoulders of the existing roadway, said Marques.

In the second phase, which should begin in mid-July, drainage will be installed and new sidewalks will be built and in the third phase, the roundabout itself will be built.

Verseckes said a roundabout at the GCC entrance is expected to improve traffic safety and decrease the number of rear-end crashes there.

Greenfield police said they don’t have exact numbers of accidents at the school’s entrance, but that there have been enough to warrant the state building a roundabout.

Police said many times what happens at that intersection is someone is driving north to GCC and starts to take the turn into the college at the same time a person behind them goes around to the right of the car in front and hits someone coming out of Colrain Street.

Speeding has also been determined by police to be a safety issue there, with speeds reaching 10 mph over the posed limits, which range from 25 to 35 mph.

Verseckes said 80 percent of the project’s cost will be funded by the Federal Highway Administration and the rest will be funded by MassDOT.

Currently, the intersection is controlled by two stop signs: one coming out of the entrance to GCC and one from Colrain Street.

According to plans, the center of the roundabout will be elevated to steer vehicles around the circle and will allow for larger vehicles, including delivery trucks, to pass through the intersection by driving onto the mountable truck apron.

The project will also include drainage improvements in that area, line striping and the erection of new signs.

The state also plans to install new sidewalks and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant wheelchair ramps.

The town originally hired BETA Group Inc. of Norwood to study the intersection several years ago. That study focused on speed and traffic volume in that area during peak hours of the morning and afternoon. The town used $68,000 of Chapter 90 highway money to do the study.

The state did its own road safety audit there in 2011, which included an independent safety evaluation that theorized crashes there are related to the “skewed intersection geometry, as well as northbound vehicles on Colrain Road bypassing left-turning vehicles.”

The state highway department will oversee the project and the town will be responsible for dealing with all right-of-way issues on private and public property during construction.

Pedestrian and vehicular access to abutting properties will be maintained, except for brief periods, which abutters will be notified about.

According to state statistics, about 7,000 vehicles travel Colrain Road each day, while Colrain Street and College Drive see about half that volume each day.

Follow the project

To follow the project’s progress, visit: www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway (Project Number 606048).

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