Greenfield, Montague brace for traffic during Nov. 4 paving on Turners Falls Road

  • Greenfield’s Turners Falls Road and Loomis Road have been graded and will be closed for paving on Nov. 4, limiting access to Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield’s Turners Falls Road and Loomis Road have been graded and will be closed for paving on Nov. 4, limiting access to Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield’s Turners Falls Road and Loomis Road have been graded and will be closed for paving on Nov. 4, limiting access to Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/26/2021 5:12:30 PM

Officials in Greenfield and Montague are anticipating traffic backups come Nov. 4, when Greenfield’s Loomis Road and Turners Falls Road will be closed for paving.

Initial traffic problems were evidenced when the road was closed for milling on Oct. 21. Calls to the Montague Police Department that morning reported the traffic jam on Avenue A in Turners Falls was so severe that people were getting out of their vehicles and getting into altercations, according to the police logs.

Montague Town Administrator Steve Ellis, speaking during a Selectboard meeting on Monday, said while there is no official detour route being advised, taking the Turners Falls-Gill Bridge to Route 2 or roads through Millers Falls might be drivers’ best way to travel. Ellis said he recognized the “possibility that Route 2 could get clogged up.”

“The last thing I want to do is tell your grandmother to drive 10 miles to get somewhere 2 miles away,” he said.

“Hopefully we can minimize it to some degree ... but it’s painful,” Montague Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz said at the meeting.

Ellis praised the Greenfield Department of Public Works’ “great communication” as Greenfield and Montague work collaboratively to brace for the Nov. 4 disruption.

“We’ll work together as two communities to get through this day,” said Greenfield DPW Director Marlo Warner II.

Warner said exact times for the beginning and end of the paving process are “impossible to nail down,” but that residents should expect early morning to late evening disruptions. Should inclement weather make paving impossible on Nov. 4, paving will be conducted Nov. 5 instead.

Warner said if the DPW didn’t act now, work on Loomis Road and Turners Falls Road would cost three times as much money a year later due to road bed deterioration. The $134,000 project is funded through the state’s Chapter 90 program and will be completed by Warner Brothers LLC.

“Turners Falls Road was at the point where we had to mill it and overlay it,” Warner said. “We have a method to our madness.”

Like Ellis, Warner acknowledged the probability of traffic backups and related inconveniences caused by the roadwork, and expressed regret for his inability to specify a timeline to plan around.

“I would love to predict every road’s exact timing for you,” he said.

“The reality is we’re anticipating they’ll be working the full day,” Ellis said.

Bridge closure exacerbates traffic problem

Traffic backups are exacerbated by the closure of the General Pierce Bridge, linking Greenfield and Montague over the Connecticut River. While the bridge — which has been closed since April for a $13.7 million rehabilitation effort designed to make it last another 25 years — was initially expected to remain closed through October 2023, Ellis recently announced that construction is now set to be complete by May 15, 2023.

“That is a huge improvement, particularly right before the summer season right when we have a lot of guests and visitors who come to the community,” Ellis said.

Ellis had been tasked with writing a letter of advocacy to the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) requesting that it consider any action that might “lead to a reduction of several months of the construction completion date.” He said this advocacy, combined with efforts from Greenfield, helped expedite the timeline. However, Ellis has not received a response from MassDOT regarding whether it might consider altering the rehabilitation plan to include painting the bridge, as was requested by town officials.

Communication efforts

Both Ellis and Warner said they’re doing their best to communicate with the public regarding the upcoming Loomis Road and Turners Falls Road closure. Ellis said the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office will be loaning Montague digital sign trailers to improve communication in town. Meanwhile, Warner said the Greenfield DPW has been working to ensure that the project is well-publicized. A digital sign is in place at the bottom of Loomis Road.

“We try to reach as many outlets as we can for these projects,” he said.

Warner said he appreciates the public’s patience and hopes they understand the necessity of the roadwork.

“The benefit of it being paved will hopefully exceed the pain,” Kuklewicz said. “It needed to be done.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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