Questions, concerns arise out of I-91 meeting - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Questions, concerns arise out of I-91 meeting

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A lot of concerns were heard from the public Tuesday night at a meeting to discuss a viaduct rehabilitation project on Interstate 91 in Springfield.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials say it will be the largest project Western Massachusetts has ever seen.

From when the project will begin to how much traffic they'll see daily, the public spoke out to MassDOT at the meeting held at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

"I just don't really want to see another big dig in Springfield," said Lou Pronovost, a Springfield resident.

Dozens of residents voiced negative opinions to MassDOT on the upcoming $260 million viaduct rehabilitation project on Interstate 91. The first phase will take about two years and is expected to begin in November.

"It's fair to say a project of this magnitude probably couldn't take place in less than 10 years, more likely 15 to 20 years," said Al Stegemen, District Two highway director for MassDOT.

The team does not want this project to be a headache for the 72,000 commuters during the week on I-91.

"Our biggest concern is making sure traffic moves along, isn't congested and doesn't interrupt city side streets," Stegemen said. 

When the project begins, traffic on both sides of I-91 will be reduced to two lanes, which MassDOT says will be adequate for most of the day, but might be tight during peak hours. The project may also close on and off ramps at times of construction.

Representatives from the Basketball Hall of Fame spoke out at the meeting, worried businesses may be impacted.

Chip Baye, a Springfield resident, received praise from the audience when he suggested the project help make Springfield a hub where visitors will want to stop.

"If you want to just make an expedient and patch together a highway for people to go by Springfield, continue to do what you are doing," Baye said. 

Residents say they do want this project to happen. They just want the nearly 60-year-old bridge fixed.

MassDOT heard their concerns, took notes throughout the meeting and said this is just one of many public hearings to be had during the project.

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