Transportation projects moving forward

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – From high speed railways to the I-91 viaduct in Springfield, transportation projects in western Massachusetts could be taking a step forward.

“I am absolutely confident the viaduct repair work will happen,” Richard Davey, the Secretary of Transportation said on Tuesday.

State Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey was at the Delaney House in Holyoke to tell the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce about the status of these projects.

Chamber members say they rely on I-91 to bring in business and to get to work everyday.

“About 15 hundred of them go into Connecticut but I think it’s about 20 thousand that go into Hampden County so I-91 is the way to get there,” said Suzanne Beck, Executive Director of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce.

Davey says work on high speed rails in western Mass. is already underway and he expects part of it to be done at the end of this year.

As for the viaduct, Phase I should begin this fall. That’s the $260 million project to rebuild the raised highway near the 291 merge.

As for the part of 91 near the Hall of Fame, Davey says that may need to happen under the next administration.

“It’s going to be up to the community and leaders after the Patrick administration to talk about that phase two, that connectivity, so that’s something people are going to have to advocate for,” Davey added.

Part of Phase I would explore the benefits of bringing the highway to street level, or even underground but right now there’s no money to actually do the work.

Chicopee State Representative Joe Wagner says the likelihood of a casino going in only makes these projects more important. “We’ve got to make sure we have a sound infrastructure to support the volume of traffic that may be associated with that new industry.”

As far as the viaduct goes, Davey says he’s waiting for permission to spend the money. He said the House approved  it, he’s just waiting on the Senate.

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