$10.6M coming to Franklin County, Athol for roadwork, other projects

Hawley’s need to close Ashfield Road due to seasonal mud, pictured, could be a thing of the past thanks to a $1 million grant.

Hawley’s need to close Ashfield Road due to seasonal mud, pictured, could be a thing of the past thanks to a $1 million grant. Contributed Photo

A section of Route 112 in Colrain has been reduced to one lane where the North River has compromised the embankment. A $1 million grant awarded to Colrain will fund repairs to the slope failure.

A section of Route 112 in Colrain has been reduced to one lane where the North River has compromised the embankment. A $1 million grant awarded to Colrain will fund repairs to the slope failure. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A section of Route 112 in Colrain has been reduced to one lane where the North River has compromised the embankment. A $1 million grant awarded to Colrain will fund repairs to the slope failure.

A section of Route 112 in Colrain has been reduced to one lane where the North River has compromised the embankment. A $1 million grant awarded to Colrain will fund repairs to the slope failure. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A section of Route 112 in Colrain has been reduced to one lane where the North River has compromised the embankment. A $1 million grant awarded to Colrain will fund repairs to the slope failure.

A section of Route 112 in Colrain has been reduced to one lane where the North River has compromised the embankment. A $1 million grant awarded to Colrain will fund repairs to the slope failure. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 11-03-2023 6:55 PM

A host of Franklin County and North Quabbin municipalities are benefiting from $10.6 million in state Community One Stop for Growth grants, with six towns garnering $1 million each to pursue much-needed road repairs.

Community One Stop for Growth serves as a portal through which municipalities can apply for funding through 13 state programs — such as the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, HousingWorks Infrastructure Program, Underutilized Properties Program, and the Rural and Small Town Development Fund — that support economic development projects related to planning and zoning, site preparation, building construction, infrastructure and housing. A total of $164 million was awarded to projects across the state in this latest round of funding.

“One Stop is a vital economic development tool to spark growth, spur development and strengthen local economies across the state,” Gov. Maura Healey said in a statement. “These funds will help make possible community-led projects that build vibrant downtowns and unlock economic potential in every region of Massachusetts while creating new jobs, housing and opportunity.”

Buckland

Thanks to its $1 million award, Buckland will pursue the full reconstruction of Charlemont Road. The road is currently in poor condition with improper storm drainage.

Town officials say this road is a priority because it is the primary access route for residents in Buckland, Ashfield, Hawley and Charlemont. The road provides regional access to schools, recreation areas, and many businesses and tourist attractions. It also serves as an alternative for Route 2 traffic.

“These poor conditions result in icing conditions during wintertime freeze/thaw cycles and damage to the road surface from standing water,” Buckland Town Administrator Heather Butler wrote in an email. “Several of the culvert inlet structures are collapsed, with partially or fully plugged pipes, and the discharge areas are unprotected and collapsing, leading to erosion.”

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Furthermore, there is a steep slope along this road, dropping between 3 and 15 feet into brush. The area is a potential hazard for drivers during poor weather conditions.

The project will include the installation of precast concrete storm drainage structures, including catch basins and drop inlets. Work will start at the intersection of Charlemont and Avery roads and continue north for roughly 2,500 feet. The town hopes to have this project completed by the end of June 2024.

Colrain

The $1 million grant awarded to Colrain will fund repairs to a slope failure on Route 112 that occurred on Dec. 23, 2022, during a high-water event. Currently, the road is limited to one lane of traffic due to the significant damage. Jersey barriers and temporary stoplights have been installed there.

The town has already hired an engineer and secured the necessary permitting for the project, which is expected to be completed in summer 2024.

Colrain Town Administrator Kevin Fox explained this grant is three times more than the Chapter 90 funds the town receives annually, allowing the town to accomplish a large project all at once. This is the fourth MassWorks grant Colrain has received during Fox’s tenure.

Hawley

Hawley’s need to close Ashfield Road due to seasonal mud could be a thing of the past thanks to its $1 million grant. The road is the sole access point for several homes and is used by emergency personnel providing mutual aid between Hawley and Ashfield.

“Climate change has increased the vulnerability of gravel roads to extended mud-season events due to the more frequent freeze-thaw cycles that are occurring in the hilltowns,” Lloyd Crawford, a member of the Finance Committee, Planning Board and Conservation Commission, as well as a freelance grant writer, wrote in an email. “This has resulted in frequent closures of this road.”

Hawley Highway Superintendent Gary Mitchell estimates the road was closed 45 days during the winter of 2021-2022 and 60 days during the winter of 2022-2023.

With this grant, the town will put down a fabric membrane, enhance roadway drainage, fill it with a crushed stone and add a finished layer on top. The town has no intention to widen or pave the road. A portion of the grant will be used for the engineering and permitting of two stream crossings. It’s expected the project will be complete by next spring.

“We are a tiny town and we need whatever help we can get to keep our 40 miles of road,” Crawford said, “and address problems before we end up with failures and closures.”

Shelburne

With its $1 million grant, Shelburne will reconstruct Old Greenfield Road to include new safety features, improve drivability and allow for better winter maintenance. The project includes a full-depth reclamation, drainage, subdrain, culverts and guardrail improvements.

“Having the ability to access a grant to rebuild an entire road from beginning to end is an amazing opportunity for the town,” commented Shelburne Selectboard Chair Robert Manners.

This road was chosen as a priority because it functions as a main detour for Route 2, which was closed several times this year. The project scope contains about 2.5 miles of road.

Warwick, Monroe and other projects

Warwick and Monroe each received $1 million for roadwork. In Warwick, Winchester Road (Route 78) will be rebuilt, including milling the existing road surface and repaving, according to the state’s grant announcement.

In Monroe, the project will build upon improvements done to Kingsley Hill Road with the same grant in fiscal year 2017. Work will include road reclamation, paving, formal and passive drainage improvements, and adding a guardrail for vehicular safety.

Kingsley Hill Road acts as the only road to the town’s public water supply and treatment facility. Failure of this road may impact the town’s ability to provide potable water to residents.

Other project grants of less than $1 million include: $25,000 for Athol’s Downtown Initiative; $40,000 for Athol to create a request for proposals to build a hotel; $575,000 for Athol to redevelop two old schools into 53 units of market-rate housing; $380,000 to Charlemont for bridge deck repairs; $500,000 to the Colrain Sewer District for a feasibility study to find a long-term solution for managing wastewater; $43,000 to Greenfield to create a housing plan; $25,000 for Greenfield’s Downtown Initiative; $750,000 to the Franklin Community Co-op for the development of Green Fields Market in the old Wilson’s Department Store building; $80,000 to the Franklin Community Co-op for the Route 2 Rural Innovation Corridor; $100,000 to Stone Soup Cafe for its Culinary Institute; $35,000 to Montague for a housing feasibility study on a 7-acre parcel; $40,000 to the Franklin Regional Council of Governments for a regional housing study; $500,000 to Montague for Avenue A sewer upgrades; $132,700 to Montague to advance the design for the Turners Falls Canal District riverfront; $8,000 to Northfield to hire a consultant for downtown improvement projects; $40,000 to Northfield to conduct a business park study; $490,000 to Northfield for culvert construction on Highland Avenue; $90,000 to Orange to update its master plan; and $750,000 to Rowe to repave a road that leads to the former nuclear power plant.

Reach Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.