HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — A popular highway ramp re-opened in Holyoke early this morning.
The Lower Westfield Road entrance to I-91 south has been closed for about two months.
Highway workers are working on repairing one of many bridges along I-91, but this particular one caused headaches for many.
In fact, the sign at the Shell Gas Station said it all Friday. “Yes, 91 South Ramp Is Reopen” blinked across their message board as drivers filled their gas tanks at many pumps.
Holyoke businesses in the Whiting Farms Road area are rejoicing after MassDOT reopened the heavily used ramp, and drivers are too.
“Instead of just being able to get back on the highway to have to go all the way around Riverdale Road, which is not that great of a road,” Anthony Edwards of Springfield said. “It’s bumpy, my car is lower, so it’s a big inconvenience.”
“Going all the way around” is exactly why the Shell Gas Station says it lost most of its’ business this spring. Drivers say the detours were painful.
“When we were coming back down, the detour wasn’t labeled well,” Dennis Reardon said. He was in Holyoke for business. “Traffic was all backed up at the lights here and a lot of people would go down and keep heading straight and there were no detour signs as to how get back to Route 5.”
The Shell Gas Station says this is one of their busiest times of the year. Now with the ramp open again, customers can stop to get gas again while they are heading south from their summer vacations.
A month ago, ABC40 asked why the ramp had to close if the actual construction was only on the highway bridge.
MassDOT said it was for safety concerns and that they were working fast to open the ramp. They did that within their expected guidelines, but construction isn’t totally done.
Now, drivers are facing a unique and at times tricky merge at the top of the ramp, but those we spoke with say its’ worth it.
“A lot of people were trying to turn around and go back the other way so it’s definitely easier now that it’s back open,” Reardon said.
Others like Carolina Gonzalez of Springfield say the ramp being reopened is more than just convenient for frequent travelers of the area.
“Time, money, gas, it’s easier,” she said.
Work on a series of bridges up and down the I-91 corridor in western Massachusetts is expected to take at least another year.