State Sen. Adam Hinds is about to find out exactly how difficult it is to get around the county on public transportation.
On Friday, Hinds is taking a Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus from Pittsfield to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, a trip that will take more than an hour. Hinds is doing it as his commute to meet with MCLA's Dean Jake Eberwein as the two host a design thinking workshop on how to improve the county's public transportation system.
This fall the MPO wants to take a much more serious look at how public transportation serves its customers.
The Berkshire Metropolitan Planning Organization is in charge of prioritizing federal transportation dollars allotted to the county. That includes funding the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority. The issues with the BRTA haven't changed in years - a lack of funding leads to limited hours, infrequent service, and limited geographic coverage.
The topic of that meeting was, appropriately enough, "You CAN Get There From Here," focusing on transportation issues and solutions. Participants rotated - transported, if you will - through several "stations" to learn about some new - and some old - initiatives happening in the realm transportation in Berkshire County.
The state Senate adopted a budget amendment Thursday to develop a blueprint for more consistent passenger rail service to New York City.
State Sen. Adam Hinds filed the amendment which would task the state Department of Transportation to create a working group to study what it will take to establish the service.
The long-anticipated reconstruction of Water Street is expected to get under way in spring 2018.
Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and engineering firm Greenman-Pedersen came to Town Hall this month for a public hearing on the project, which is 100 percent designed and ready to go to bid in August 2017.
There is a newly renovated train station but no train.
In 2014, taxpayers in town reluctantly put up funds to purchase and renovate a former Hoosac Street car wash into the Adams Station, an end point to the Berkshire Scenic Railway's Hoosac Valley Service. The project was first announced in 2013 and plans were laid to construct the Pan Am lines from Burke Construction to North Adams. The final 6/10th of a mile was expected to be constructed with the expansion of the Ashuwiliticook Rail Trai
The MPO isn't quite sure how to use up $2.5 million for road projects.
The money was planned to be used for a renovation of the intersections near Berkshire Medical Center. However, the state Department of Transportation and city officials say there is no change the design will be ready in time for 2017. That delays the project to at least 2018 and leaves $2.5 million left to be programmed.
Plans for the reconstruction of the BMC area intersections will not be ready in time.
Peter Frieri, of the state Department of Transportation District 1, said the design hasn't progressed enough to go to bid for 2017 and it is questionable if it will be ready for 2018. The project was planned to start in 2017 and span into 2018 at a cost of some $6 million, though that cost appears to have grown to $7.3 million.
The BMC project is planned to align Charles Street with Springside Avenue as w