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MassDOT unlikely to stop Pleasant Street crossing fixes in Deerfield

The railroad crossing at Pleasant Street in South Deerfield, with the elementary school in the distance at right..
Recorder/Micky Bedell

The railroad crossing at Pleasant Street in South Deerfield, with the elementary school in the distance at right.. Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The chances that the state Department of Transportation would open up the former Conway Street railroad crossing instead of upgrading the Pleasant Street crossing as planned are slim.

“In its current configuration, Conway Street does not cross the railroad. Opening up a crossing at Conway Street is outside the scope of the present project,” according to MassDOT spokesperson, Michael Verseckes. “If this were to be pursued, it would have to be done so as a separate project in the future.”

The Deerfield Board of Selectmen requested last week that the MassDOT delay its planned upgrades to the Pleasant Street railroad crossing until the state justifies why it can’t move the crossing to Conway Street.

The crossings in town are being upgraded to accommodate planned reintroduction of Amtrak passenger trains to the tracks through town, which have only handled slower freight trains.

The Pleasant Street crossing is a shortcut from Routes 5 and 10 and Frontier Regional School, which brings extra traffic past Deerfield Elementary School. If the crossing were switched to Conway Street, the grade school would be on a dead-end street, instead.

The Pleasant and Elm street rail crossings are in line to get upgrades as part of the six New England-state initiative to restore Amtrak’s intercity passenger train service to its original route by relocating the Montrealer from the New England Central Railroad back to Pan Am’s tracks through Whately, Deerfield and Greenfield.

The two South Deerfield crossings are expected to get roadway and signal system improvements and sidewalk extensions to improve safety and provide a clear pedestrian path through the crossings.

So far, work has started on the grade crossings on Keets Road, Pleasant Avenue and North Hillside Road. Work is yet to begin on Pleasant Street and Elm Street.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268. On Twitter, follow @RecorderKatMcK

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