$6.44M redesign looks to improve Route 2 intersection in Erving

By JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer

Published: 02-13-2023 9:18 AM

ERVING — A proposed redesign of Route 2’s problematic intersection with the east side of Holmes Street looks to improve safety in the Farley village area.

The intersection has been the subject of safety concerns for decades and last discussed for potential redesign in 2012, according to Town Administrator Bryan Smith. Safety improvements proposed at a public forum on Wednesday are part of an estimated $6.44 million redesign being overseen by the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and engineered by Green International Affiliates. The project will focus on Route 2 from the west end of Old State Road through to Mountain Road, and would be funded through the 2027 Transportation Improvement Program for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2027.

Wednesday’s forum, held at the Erving Public Library, showcased five preliminary design options that reimagine what Project Engineer Nick Millhollin of Green International Affiliates called “a very difficult intersection” between Route 2 and the east end of Holmes Street.

“You all who have been living in the town for a long time know that Route 2 has been a problem,” Town Administrator Bryan Smith said to a packed crowd dozens strong.

Millhollin pitched five preliminary design options during the forum.

Option 1, labeled the least impactful to abutting northern properties out of options one through four, proposed widening the intersection’s angle to 60 degrees, shifting Route 2 to the south and widening the roadway of Route 2 at Holmes Street.

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Option 2 proposed widening the intersection’s angle to 90 degrees, shifting Route 2 to the south and widening the roadway of Route 2 at Holmes Street.

Option 3 proposed widening the intersection’s angle to 60 degrees, maintaining the alignment of Route 2 and marginally widening the roadway of Route 2 at Holmes Street.

Option 4, labeled the most impactful to abutting northern properties out of options one through four, proposed widening the intersection’s angle to 90 degrees, maintaining the alignment of Route 2 and marginally widening the roadway of Route 2 at Holmes Street.

Option Five would connect Holmes Street to Wheelock Street and eliminate Holmes Street’s connection with Route 2. Wheelock Street’s intersection with Route 2 would be safer than Holmes Street’s intersection, Green International reasoned. The alignment of Route 2 would remain unchanged.

In terms of community feedback, what particularly resonated with Millhollin was “a lot of pushback to anything that makes the grade more difficult,” he summarized.

“Those 90-degree alternatives, a lot of the neighborhood didn’t want that,” he observed, noting residents’ projections that such an alteration would inhibit a vehicle’s momentum as it changes elevation.

Residents also largely expressed concern over closing off the west end of Holmes Street during construction, broader speed issues along Route 2 and the prospect of Holmes Street being shifted north in such a way that it affects abutting properties.

“They’re more willing to accept any alternative that has the least amount of impact on their property,” Millhollin said.

Millhollin expressed that public opinion is essential to the planning process, particularly because he and his civil engineering firm are not from the affected area. Smith seconded this, stressing that “lived experience is actually an expertise.” Green International Associates will take the opinions of residents into account and update their designs accordingly before returning for a second discussion, Millhollin said.

“We’re going to take a lot of this feedback that we received today from the large group that arrived ... and try to implement some of their requests,” he assured.

While unsure, Smith estimated that the town’s next meeting with Green International Associates could take place in late spring. After the engineers indicate they have revised concepts to share, Smith said Erving officials will schedule a meeting two to three weeks out to give the public enough notice.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

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