Amherst-area gears up for UMass commencement weekend - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Amherst-area gears up for UMass commencement weekend

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

Friday and pretty much all weekend long, thousands of people will descend on Amherst for UMass commencement.

It has a major impact not only Amherst, but surrounding cities and towns.

About 20,000 people are expected to travel from all over to celebrate a college career well spent. 

However, that means traffic.

After four long years of studying, students at UMass will soon become alumni and that means friends and family flocking to campus to celebrate.

"We recognize that there's going to be some congestion and an inconvenience for a while, but it's also great opportunity for people to get out and see the community," said UMass spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski.

However, that also means local roads will be much more traveled than on any other Friday.

MassDOT recognizes this and they told Western Mass News that they are doing their part to help keep traffic moving.

"In order to encourage reliable and effective travel during this event, no work will occur on the two Route 9 projects in Amherst and Hadley on Friday.  Additionally, no work on the I-91 resurfacing project will occur north of Easthampton on Friday," the agency said in a statement.

Blaguszewski added, "We think it's a great opportunity for people to come and visit the restaurants, do some shopping.  It's a nice economic impact for people and what we learn over time as a people come to love the region and they may come back."

On graduation day, every restaurant in town is buzzing.  Western Mass News reached out to many local hot spots for comment, but they said they were too busy preparing for the weekend.

"They stay, they dine, they shop, and they add to the vibrancy of the community," Blaguszewski explained.

We also reached out to multiple hotels which reported they don't have a single room available.

Some local residents will steer clear of Amherst and Route 9, but one restaurant owner said that she doesn't want the local crowd to be scared off.  They want to feed everyone. 

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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