The Recorder – FRTA plans new maintenance facility in Montague

Published: 5/21/2021 5:15:01 PM

MONTAGUE — A new building that the Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA) has been pursuing for years is expected to come to fruition by next year on a piece of land on Sandy Lane, off Turnpike Road.

Improvements to the infrastructure of Sandy Lane are expected to be part of FRTA’s deal to purchase the land from the town of Montague.

FRTA’s current maintenance garage is on Deerfield Street in Greenfield, near the city’s wastewater treatment plant. FRTA leases the building and its location is not ideal for the circulation patterns of the fleet of vehicles, according to FRTA Assistant Administrator Michael Perreault.

The new maintenance facility on Sandy Lane would be owned by FRTA and would better suit the traffic patterns, Perreault said. The property is slightly larger, but the building is expected to be similar in size to the Greenfield facility.

A building plan has not been presented publicly yet. It is expected to be discussed with the Montague Planning Board for a site plan review on June 22, according to Montague Town Planner Walter Ramsey.

Construction would likely begin later this summer, assuming that the building plan is approved and the purchase and sale agreement is settled as expected, Perreault said. The building would be substantially complete and ready for use within about a year, with about three more months of finishing touches, he added.

In total, the project is worth about $9.5 million, and is funded by a mix of federal and state grants, according to Perreault. The design work and the purchase of the property are funded separately by FRTA, he said.

The purchase price for the land is expected to be about $125,000, although the final agreement between FRTA and Montague is still being negotiated, and won’t be finalized until after the building plan is approved by the Planning Board, Perreault said.

As part of the deal with the town, FRTA will pay for infrastructure upgrades on Sandy Lane, including new sidewalks, enhancements to the water infrastructure and repaving the road from the corner with Turnpike Road to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at the end, Perreault said.

Two key issues in the plan, which FRTA addressed in a public presentation earlier this month, would be the potential for loud noise from the facility, and any impact to traffic on Turnpike Road.

Noise is not expected to be a problem, Perreault said, as all maintenance work would be done inside the garage.

“There will be very little impact to outdoor noise,” he said.

The impact of the extra traffic is expected to be minimal as well. A study commissioned by FRTA found that the comings and goings of FRTA buses along Turnpike Road would amount to an increase in traffic of about 7 percent, Perreault said.

Beyond Turnpike Road, Perreault said that the buses would typically use the General Pierce Bridge as their main route across the Connecticut River. As the General Pierce Bridge is closed for renovation, the bus drivers will use the designated detour of the Turners Falls-Gill Bridge, by way of Avenue A in downtown Turners Falls.

Reach Max Marcus at

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