By Carley Dangona
WEST SPRINGFIELD – With the closing of the Route 5/Riverdale Street Tunnel under the Route 20 rotary for repairs, traffic has increased along Union Street, which is already riddled with potholes.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) closed the tunnel in both directions beginning Feb. 19. It will remain closed for six weeks for what MassDOT called “advanced deterioration.”
Union Street provides the most direct route to access the shopping on Memorial Avenue from Riverdale Street and vice versa.
“In a typical year, we patch 1 million pounds of asphalt – 5 tons,” Robert Colson, director of the West Side Department of Public Works (DPW) said. “The condition the roads are in now; we’re overwhelmed with what we have before us.”
Colson said the DPW has rented a milling machine that can patch a 20-inch wide section of road at a time. Ideally, he would like to use “hot mix” but most suppliers are closed due to the off-season.
Those suppliers are usually open from April to December, according to Colson.
He explained that the “cold mix” is more of a “temporary repair.” Generally, roads are paved at 300 degrees to ensure proper compaction.
The DPW is most concerned with sections of the road that have completely collapsed such as on Rogers Avenue, which Colson described as “brutalized” after the winter storms.
He acknowledged that the potholes need fixing, but said those are secondary at this time.
The patchwork for potholes will begin at the Elm Street and Park Street intersection. “We’ll keep picking off one at a time,” Colson said of the potholes, “We will use the machine to apply square, even, full-depth cold patches.”
He added, “As we move forward in time, we’ll probably have to change our patching methods.” He anticipated the DPW would switch to a “high performance cold patch that is more of a temporary-permanent” fix.
To report adverse road issues such as collapsed sections or potholes, call the DPW hotline at 495-1891, ext. 1874.