By Chris Maza
EAST LONGMEADOW – The Department of Public Works (DPW) will begin an extensive project aimed at rejuvenating the problematic Elm Street corridor later this year.
DPW Superintendent Robert Peirent and Senior Project Manager Sean Kelley told Reminder Publications
that the project would involve a complete reclamation of the road that will not only relieve the current surface issues, but also strengthen the road to prevent future issues.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to end up with a roadway that’s going to serve the town for the next 15 to 20 years,” Peirent said. “This isn’t a patch job; this is a full reconstruction.”
However, before that project is tackled, the DPW will be making improvements to other roadways.
“Elm Street is the major project that we’re working this year; it’s not the only project we’re working on,” Peirent said, explaining that other smaller projects would involve overlaying pavement on top of the existing surface and would not be to the size or scale of the Elm Street project.
Overlay projects on Pease Road (from No. 54 to 90), Chestnut Street (from Excel Dryer to Holly Drive), Sanford Street (from Parker Street to Kenneth Lunden Drive) and Meadowbrook Road (from Somers Road to No. 48) are expected to begin in the middle of May.
“Those, or at least some of them, will start before Elm Street starts,” Peirent said, adding that the plan was to initiate the Elm Street project by mid-July. Conclusion of the work is estimated to be sometime in the middle of August. “Our goal is to have the project done before school starts.”
Another section of road, Chestnut Street (No. 173 to Somers Road), is also slated for overlay resurfacing, which most likely would take place later.
Peirent said there were multiple reasons for holding off on Elm Street. First of all, he said, the DPW wished to do the work at a time in which traffic issues would be avoided as much as possible. He added that in holding off on the project, the project would not interfere with the Fourth of July parade.
Peirent also explained that the overlay projects scheduled for May were slated to be completed first because of time restrictions associated with the money allocation received from the state to address pothole issues, which totaled approximately $88,000.
“Those monies have a very short timeframe in terms of when they have to be spent,” he said. “What we want to do is make certain that we can spend that money first on the small projects and get them done in time to capture the funds that the state has provided.”
If the money is not utilized by the state’s deadline, the town would lose out on those funds, he added.
The Elm Street project would be a very involved one that will be performed in stages.
The first stage, Peirent explained, would be the lowering of utilities and structures by approximately a foot below the road. That would allow for what he and Kelley said could be the most critical portion of the project, which would involve pulverizing the existing roadway and blending it with the existing base. That blend would then be re-laid, creating a “stronger, more durable, longer lasting base” for the new road, Peirent said.
Kelley said some of the current issues with the existing roadway start at the base, which consists of gravel, sand and some red stone. As the base has deteriorated, so has the roadway.
“Typically you’ll get a lot of sinking … What you’ll see is little depressions and that’s where water collects and eventually it could find its way underneath the base and that creates a lot of disturbance,” he said. “What this is doing is rebuilding the entire base that the road is going to sit on.”
That process would take approximately one to two weeks, taking place in segments. The roadway will not be closed to traffic, but motorists should expect delays and seek alternate routes, as sections of road will be limited to one lane, Peirent said.
“There really are very little opportunities for detours on Elm Street,” he said.
Once that base is laid, the road will remain in that condition for two to three weeks as the structures that were lowered to allow for pulverizing are brought back up to normal road height, but Peirent stressed that the road would be smooth and drivable.
The paving will take place in two phases in which a base course and then a top course will be laid, with a possible time lapse between the two phases, during which motorists would have to be aware of raised structures. During the final phase in which the top layer of pavement is laid, the road might be closed temporarily to all but local traffic.
Peirent cautioned that while there is a preliminary timeline for the plan, paving project scheduling depends largely on factors such as weather and could be altered.
He also said the width of the road would not be altered by this project.
In addition to the paving of Elm Street, Kelley said the traffic signals at the intersection of Elm and Mapleshade Avenue would be replaced.
Traffic counts have been conducted in order to create a better flow of traffic through the intersection, he said, and new in-ground sensors would be laid as part of the project.
For a period of that project, the system will be shut down and the intersection will become a four-way stop. Once installed, there could be a period when the lights are flashing, Peirent said.
The sidewalks at that intersection will also be improved for better handicap access.