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Work on Franklin Street project starts this week

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GREENFIELD — Ground is being broken this week on the Franklin Street expansion project, with utility lines being relocated to make way for expanded lanes later this year.

Greenfield officials have been planning for years to widen Franklin Street to three lanes from Main Street to Tague Street; and widen the two existing lanes south to Davis Road.

Work began Monday on relocating a water line from the center of the street to the east side.

Karla Vincent, city engineer, said work could continue through August on moving the water lines. Telephone lines will also have to be relocated before actual road construction begins in the late summer.

Meanwhile, owners of one piece of property needed for the project are still resisting the city’s offers and intend to take the eminent domain case all the way to a jury trial on Jan. 27.

Phil and Janice McCord, owners of Red Rooster Antiques on the southwest corner of Franklin and Main streets, say the project will intrude so much on their land that they might wind up closing their doors for good.

Eminent domain is the legal process through which municipalities acquire right-of-way for infrastructure improvement projects. Legal disputes over how much the government offers the property owner occasionally occur, but parties usually settle after court-appointed appraisers give a value.

Phil McCord said his case is still headed to court. He said it’s frustrating to know that work on utility lines is forging ahead.

City attorney Tom Billings said in October if the case goes all the way to jury trial, it will be the first time in more than 30 years a city eminent domain case has been heard by a jury.

The project, including construction and right-of-way costs, will be funded by 80 percent federal money and 20 percent local street improvement funds. City officials have said it’s important to widen Franklin Street not only for industrial traffic flow, but to create a thoroughfare for residents on the city’s south side to steer clear of downtown traffic.

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