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Pedestrian, vehicle safety to be improved in Main Street corridor

Date: 8/25/2010

Aug. 25, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM -- The first phase of a two-pronged, $4 million Agawam Traffic and Safety Improvement Project, aimed to improve vehicle and pedestrian safety, will break ground next month.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (Mass-DOT) allocated $700,000 for the first phase and more than 10 contractors are vying for the job, according to Deborah Dachos, director of Planning and Community Development. Bidding will take place Aug. 25 in Mayor Richard Cohen's office.

"The Main Street project, which was funded through a Public Works Economic Grant in 1999, has a little something for everyone. Most importantly, new traffic signals, crosswalks, paving and curbing will increase the safety of the Main Street Historic District, which sees very high volumes of traffic heading to and from Six Flags. In addition, the project will fund a number of improvements which will enhance the Main Street Historic District. These include, historic street lights, street signs and extensive landscaping," Dachos explained.

The first phase will include repaving of the Route 57 ramps off Main Street, new sidewalks, a pedestrian crosswalk to the senior center and historic lighting and street signs. The second phase, Dachos noted, will include new traffic signals, sidewalks, landscaping and pavement along Main Street through the Six Flags New England corridor.

MassDOT is finalizing plans to build sidewalks along the west side of Main Street from South Street to the Connecticut border as well as a section on the east side of the street, she explained. MassDOT will have a public meeting to discuss the project with residents next month; an exact date and time has yet to be set.

"It's a safety issue. This allows for a safe avenue for people to walk," Melissa Pinkerton, communications director for Six Flags New England, said of the need for sidewalks.

New sidewalks, a shoulder and crosswalks will ensure that those attending the venue will have safe passage to and from their vehicles, she added, noting that current conditions require people to walk in the slim breakdown lane next to oncoming traffic.

The second phase of the Main Street project is slated to break ground in 2012.

"This project has been a very long time in the making with lots of public input and revisions," Mayor Richard Cohen said. "We're thrilled that we will finally see it become a reality. Main Street has been neglected far too long. This project will improve public safety and showcase its deep historic heritage."

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