GCC entrance to be made safer
$1.8 million roundabout project to begin this fall
Recorder/Paul Franz Intersection of Colrain Rd and the entrance to GCC, at left, looking north.
GREENFIELD — Construction of a $1.8 million roundabout to improve the intersection at the entrance to Greenfield Community College will most likely begin in the fall.
Michael Verseckes, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which will hire a contractor and pay for the project, said the roundabout project is in the final design stage.
Verseckes said the state will seek bids for the project in late June. Once that happens, it will take 120 days to receive bids and select and hire a contractor.
“So, people can expect work to begin in mid to late fall,” he said.
Verseckes said most of the work will be done in 2014 and construction will most likely be completed in 2015.
He said the project will transform the existing intersection into a one-lane roundabout approximately 120 feet in diameter.
Verseckes said for an intersection like the one at the GCC entrance, a roundabout can help improve traffic flow by decreasing the number of rear-end crashes, as well as cross-angle crashes, which are crashes where the front of one vehicle hits the side of another. He said those types of accidents tend to happen frequently at that intersection, but didn’t have exact numbers.
Greenfield Police Lt. Todd Dodge said Tuesday that he also did not have numbers, but said there have been “enough” accidents at the entrance to GCC to have warranted the state to take a look at it.
“A lot of times what happens is someone is driving north to GCC and starts to take the turn into the college,” said Dodge. “At the same time, the person behind him goes around him to the right and hits someone coming out of Colrain Street.”
“There is definitely an issue there,” he said.
Currently, the intersection is controlled by two stop signs: one coming out of the entrance to GCC and one coming out of Colrain Street.
Verseckes said the center of the roundabout will be elevated to steer vehicles around the circle. He said it will also allow for larger vehicles, including delivery trucks, to pass through the intersection by driving onto the mountable truck apron.
The project will include drainage improvements in the area, line striping, and erecting new signs.
The state also plans to install new sidewalks and Americans with Disability Act-compliant wheelchair ramps.
The town hired BETA Group Inc. of Norwood to do the original study on the intersection several years ago. It 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. It 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.”
Speeding was also determined to be a safety issue there, with speeds generally reaching 10 mph over the posted limits, which range from 25 to 35 mph there.
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.
The state has said that all roadways in the project area will remain open to traffic throughout construction, but there will be occasional short interruptions.
Pedestrian and vehicular access to abutting properties will be maintained, except for brief periods, which abutters will be notified about.
According to state highway statistics, about 7,000 vehicles travel Colrain Road each day, while Colrain Street and College Drive each see about half that volume each day.
For more information or to follow the project’s progress, you can visit: www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway (Project Number 606048).