Williamsburg, Massachusetts Residents' Petition to Local, State and Federal Agencies: Mountain Street Reconstruction by Mass Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Project File 607231
Whereas Mountain Street’s reconstruction, initiated by the Town of Williamsburg with MassDOT, will fundamentally alter the footprint of this 250-year old historic road, by straightening, curbing and widening it, carving into fields and slopes of a 2.8 mile stretch from the conjunction of High Street and Kingsley Street to the Whately town line;
Whereas Mountain Street has become a GPS/Smartphone through-way in the past decade, leading to greatly increased speed, where cars routinely pass other vehicles up to and above 60 miles per hour, threatening the safety of those who drive, bike, walk, live and farm upon it, where heavy and long (18 wheeler) commuter freight trucks neither limited by weight nor speed bypass state routes and highways, pounding this low elevation basin, rattling houses - in one home causing a china cabinet to shatter - and accelerating damage to the road, where road straightening will eliminate speed-calming curves, and widening will increase traffic, and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions;
Whereas Mountain Street in Haydenville, MA is inclusive of the original land grant to Captain Jonathan Warner, the site of the Warner’s 1776 Bicentennial Farm, a designated Scenic Road in a state that wishes to preserve the aesthetic integrity of scenic and historic roads, still a farm road where hay is harvested, cattle and sheep are raised for meat, and chickens for eggs in this Right to Farm town, is home to significant wetlands, bird and aquatic life, and is a country road cherished for its unaltered traditional beauty;
Therefore, be it resolved, the signatories respectfully request of MassDOT a design for repair and reconstruction of Mountain St. without widening, straightening, or curbing it, allowing for reasonable drainage modifications to protect the back-up reservoir serving the City of Northampton’s residents, as well as allowing for the multitude of different research perspectives regarding road widening as it relates to road safety or bicycle use, and to increase the 10-day public response period - following the release of the 25% design for Project File 607231 at public hearing on June 16, 2021 - to six months, thereby giving residents time more equivalent to the state’s multi-year design timeline;
Furthermore be it resolved, the signatories respectfully request of our Massachusetts State Senator and Representative, to reserve committed state funding for the remaining 75% design process until the residents have been allowed a thorough review and response to the 25% design for six months, and to join with your constituents in seeking a design that will not straighten, widen, or curb this country road, but instead that will protect and perpetuate its rural character both for those who traverse our 2.8 mile stretch for minutes in a day, and those who permanently reside upon it;
Furthermore be it resolved, the signatories respectfully request that the Town of Williamsburg Board of Selectmen address concerns for vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian safety on Mountain St. by reducing the 40 MPH speed limit to 35 MPH, and limit further the speed, length and weight, of freight truck traffic, and to endorse a redefinition of Project File No. 607231 that does not widen, straighten or curb Mountain Street, but rather scales down the estimated federal and state funded $13M project to comport with the road’s existing footprint, that meets the justifiable drainage needs of the City of Northampton’s reservoir, and with regard for both increased traffic speed already caused by prior road work on behalf of the reservoir, and for complaints already lodged by residents about vehicle speed and truck safety along Mountain Street.
Respectfully Submitted to: Massachusetts State Senator Adam Hinds, State Representative Natalie Blais; MA Department of Transportation Project Development Engineer Mark Moore, Project Director Greg Frazier; Town of Williamsburg, MA Board of Selectmen Dave Mathers, Denise Bannister, Bill Sayre; and Copied to: MassDOT Chief Engineer Patricia A. Leavenworth, P.E.; Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Principal Planner and Transportation Manager Dana Roscoe; Williamsburg Town Administrator Nick Caccamo.