Town appeals to state to fix Middle Street tie-ups

  • Hadley Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Monday, December 06, 2021

HADLEY — Periodic backups of vehicles on Middle Street in the town center, despite motorists making right turns onto Route 9 even when the lights are red, may indicate the need for further modifications to the signals at the busy intersection, according to members of the Select Board.

Like it did a year ago, the board is appealing to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to adjust the traffic signals, and the pavement markings, where Routes 9 and 47 converge.

Chairman David J. Fill II said the state’s decision to remove the “no turn on red” signs has improved the traffic flow, following a request from the Select Board. He also credited a strategy to encourage drivers, especially commuters between Amherst and Northampton, to stay on the roads maintained by the state, rather than use an alternate route along North Lane and the dike, and West Street, Cemetery Road and Cross Path Road.

But the problem that has developed in the past year, and which Fill said is particularly acute for vehicles traveling south on Middle Street and trying to get onto Route 9, is that motorists continuing on Route 47 stay in the same lane as the vehicles trying to make right turns. As currently configured, the dedicated lanes on Middle Street are for left turns only.

The backups are affecting nearby sites, including the Hadley Senior Center and Hadley Public Library, and a Dunkin Donuts.

Fill said the state is considering making the Middle Street lanes for right turns only, and putting in a green arrow, but can’t do any new traffic markings or other adjustments until spring.

Board member Jane Nevinsmith said each lane on Middle Street should have its own cycle of green lights to improve safety.

This would be similar to how traffic is handled in the center of Sunderland at the intersection of Routes 47 and 116, said Police Lt. Mitchell Kuc.

But Fill said a similar scenario can’t exist in Hadley, as the state is prioritizing the flow of traffic on Route 9.