Downtown construction to be completed by 2012Aug. 11, 2010
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD -- It's a bumpy road to the future, just ask anyone attempting to walk or drive through downtown.
The Great River Bridge Project and the Main Street-Broad Street Project have radically ripped up this corridor, eliminating trees and roadways, causing traffic congestion with new detours and replacing the entire downtown green with construction equipment. The good news, according to city officials, it will be worth the wait once everything is done on June 17, 2012.
"We're blessed and cursed with multiple projects at the same time," City Engineer Mark Cressotti said. "The contractor has proved to move expeditiously and we'll have more free-flowing [traffic patterns]."
The widening of Main Street's 10-foot lanes, removal of the bridge trestle over Main Street, fresh pavement in the downtown corridor, improved traffic signals, handicapped accessible sidewalks and drainage and water system replacements are just some of the projects' elements currently under construction, Cressotti noted.
"We're not just making it nicer but [constructing] a center piece for the next generation," he said.
Lisa McMahon, executive director of the Westfield Business Improvement District (WBID), said the construction has caused downtown businesses to see a decline in patronage. She noted business owners are working together on collective marketing strategies to help improve foot traffic.
"Eighty percent of this project is in my ward and I'm dealing with the headaches but if people can just stick with us, we'll get through," Ward Two City Councilor James Brown said.
Richard Nangle, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the agency overseeing the sites, noted the Great River Bridge Project is slated for completion in the fall of 2011.
"Work is ongoing with regards to the three parks with the majority completed this year," he explained. "Phase two steel erection on the railroad viaduct should commence by Aug. 23, 2010. Minor steel repairs are ongoing on the existing bridge ... the contractor hopes to start these major repairs within three weeks or as soon as the steel is delivered."
Nangle noted the Main Street-Broad Street Project is projected for completion on June 17, 2012.
Under contract, the city has been granted the bronze option, one of four categories including silver, gold and platinum, for the green's reconstruction, which includes a fountain flanked by a four-post light fixtures with granite walls, a lawn area with minimal paving treatments, an event staging area and new trees.
Mayor Daniel Knapik advised patience, adding that the results of these two multi-million dollar projects will serve as the downtown Westfield for the next century.
Traffic updates and the most recent road closures may be obtained courtesy of the WBID at www.thedistrictwestfield.com or by logging onto the city's Web site, www.cityofwestfield.org.