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Eyes On the Street: Dutch-Style Infrastructure In the Suburbs of Springfield

A paved bike path runs alongside a two-lane road (right) and a sidewalk (left) under some trees. In the middle distance in the upper-left corner is a brick school building.

A new separated bike path runs alongside part of Main Street in Agawam, Massachusetts. At left is the town’s Roberta Doering Middle School.

While we were in Westfield last week to check out the new Columbia Greenway, we also visited nearby Agawam, a suburb of Springfield, to check out some new Dutch-style infrastructure that MassDOT recently built there.

During the pandemic, the state replaced the Morgan-Sullivan Bridge that spans the Westfield River between the towns of Agawam and West Springfield, and also reconstructed several adjacent streets and intersections.

Locator map of new and upgraded bike infrastructure in Agawam and West Springfield. Thick green lines indicate new protected two-way bike paths, and thinner lines indicate paint-only bike lanes on calmer neighborhood streets.

In accordance with MassDOT's new design standards, the project also created new sidewalks where very few existed before, in addition to new two-way, physically-separated bikeways on adjoining parts of Springfield Street, Main Street, Suffield Street, and Memorial Avenue across the new bridge.

A paved bike path runs alongside a wide multi-lane road (at left) and a sidewalk (at right) with a striped crosswalk in the foreground. To the left of the roadway is a gas station and to the right is a parking lot.
The newly-rebuilt Springfield Street, looking east towards Main Street, with its new two-way, physically-separated bike path.
A PVTA bus approaches along a two-way street lined with strip malls and parking lots. The street includes new sidewalks and painted bike lanes and the strip malls on either side are full of small businesses.
Walnut Street in Agawam is lined with several older strip malls that are full of popular local businesses.

It's still a very suburban area, with lots of strip malls and big parking lots, but the new infrastructure at least makes it possible for Agawam residents to access a lot more small businesses, in addition to the town's middle school and town hall, without a car.

Another MassDOT project, which will go under construction in the next few months, will rebuild the entire length of Memorial Avenue through West Springfield on the northern side of the new bridge, and extend the sidewalk improvements and new bicycling facilities all the way the banks of the Connecticut River, just across from downtown Springfield.

A video tour of Agawam's new separated bike paths.

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