Officials meeting with MassDOT about Routes 5&10 flooding in Deerfield

  • Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials will meet with other state and town officials on Monday to address the flooding on Routes 5 and 10 in Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/30/2021 4:41:22 PM

DEERFIELD — Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials will meet with other state and town officials on Monday to address the flooding on Routes 5 and 10.

The meeting will be held outdoors at 11 a.m at the corner of Greenfield and Wapping roads by Richardson’s Candy Kitchen, which had to be closed at points last week due to severe flooding.

Deerfield Town Administrator Kayce Warren said the meeting will be held onsite as attendees try to work toward a solution.

“We will discuss the impacts of flooding in the area,” she said. “We will be working collaboratively to address storm impacts.”

Warren said local state officials like Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, and Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, have been helpful in setting up this meeting.

“We’ve gotten a lot of assistance from Rep. Blais and Sen. Comerford,” Warren said. “We look forward to working with other officials to address these issues.”

Comerford said she and Elena Cohen, her district director, have seen photos of the flooded road, and this meeting is the first step toward repairing it. She added that MassDOT has tried repairs in the past that were unsuccessful.

“We couldn’t help but see the pictures both from officials themselves and social media. … It’s unbelievably untenable,” Comerford said in a phone interview. “It shows the need for this kind of proactive collaboration.”

Comerford said the meeting is a chance to “get on the ground and see what’s happening” in Deerfield. She added that infrastructure is necessary for both public and economic health, and when a road has to be shut down because of flooding, it hurts everybody.

“It’s critical. We all want the same thing, we want our roads to be safe and accessible,” Comerford said. “We want our communities to have infrastructure that is safe and furthers economic development. … (Routes) 5 and 10 is a major artery.”

She said meetings like this in the past, such as one regarding the French King Bridge in February, have been efficient in spurring action.

“We’ve found them very productive, honestly, we really have,” Comerford said. “It’s really good for MassDOT officials to get on the ground.”

Comerford said the state doesn’t always provide enough financial assistance for these kinds of repairs and she is glad to be able to try to help Deerfield.

“What’s true is that the state doesn’t offer enough support for infrastructure for towns, especially small towns,” Comerford said. “We’re really grateful to be laser-focused on this and happy to join in.”

Jose Delgado, director of the Governor’s Western Massachusetts Office, has also been invited to the meeting, but Comerford said it has not been confirmed whether he will attend yet.

Rep. Blais said the meeting is a chance to get “everybody in the same room” and discuss possible solutions.

“It’s critical to bring everyone together here, both local and state partners,” Blais said in a phone interview. “The recent rain has brought this to the forefront.”

Blais added this area has seen a “great deal of flooding” and noted the impact Tropical Storm Irene had on the road in 2011. She said she is thankful people are coming together to discuss this problem.

“I’m grateful for everybody taking the time to start this conversation,” Blais said, “and to hopefully work toward a solution.”

The deluge of rain forced the Selectboard to declare a state of emergency July 18 as flooding damaged multiple roads around town. Last week’s storms were a continuation of a wet July trend that kicked off two weeks ago with heavy rainstorms that were immediately followed by Tropical Storm Elsa.

Warren added there have been issues with rain in the past, but the volume of water dropped on the town over the past few weeks has been overwhelming.

“We’ve had (rain) events before, but this event just seems to have really impacted Wapping Road and (Routes) 5 and 10,” Warren said. “I drove down there and took pictures and I was amazed.”

Warren said she is hopeful this meeting can be fruitful as extreme weather is becoming more common.

“With climate change, storm damage continues to be a problem,” Warren said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Comerford highlighted the efforts of Deerfield officials, like Police Chief John Paciorek Jr., in keeping state officials informed while “juggling so many things at one moment.”

“The local officials in this area are the heroes. We’re happy to have this meeting and to have MassDOT do it,” Comerford said, “but really, it’s the local officials leading this work who get our highest gratitude.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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