The so-called Woodlawn Bridge will be coming down over the next two weeks. It's replacement will be higher to accommodate double-decker trains.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After months of delay and uncertainties surrounding the future of the Woodlawn Avenue bridge, the connector to the William Stanley Business Park is coming down, according to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority.
PEDA officials on Wednesday said the demolition is expected to be completed over the next two weeks, with recently secured state monies funding a replacement bridge expected to be in place by the end of 2013.
"I want to publicly thank our Berkshire delegation, and Senator Downing, for advancing this project," said PEDA director Corydon Thurston. "They did a yeoman's job of supporting the city's efforts and PEDA's efforts to get that MassDOT attention on time."
As part of the transportation bond bill passed in the state Legislature on July 25, state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing secured $2 million for the reconstruction of the bridge, contingent on its completion by the end of next year.
The bridge was previously slated to be demolished in January of this year, but uncertainties about a timetable for its replacement lead to delays in its removal. The parcel of former GE land passed to PEDA last fall with a stipulation that the structure be replaced with a higher-elevated one that complies with a mandate from Gov. Deval Patrick that all Massachusetts bridges be able to accommodate double-decker rail cars.
The bridge is considered crucial to the future success of the business park, which has struggled for years to attract viable tenants to the environmentally troubled site. PEDA and city officials had also hoped to have a reopened bridge available to connect the Morningside neighborhood with East Street before the closure of Silver Lake Boulevard, which is expected to occur next summer as part of the environmental remediation of the lake.
In other business park news:
• PEDA continues to take steps to try to pave the way for a life sciences "incubator" building, state funding for which is available if enough prospective tenants can be secured. Thurston told the economic development group's board he is working with the city to insure broadband availability, and negotiating with CSX Railroad for rail access from the site of the proposed complex. A "rough marketing plan" has been crafted, said the director, which has identified around 2,000 potential leads for businesses that might be interested in the life sciences center
• A publicity campaign by Winstanley Partners, which the organization recently retained for a three-year contract to help market the park, has yielded some initial fruits, including articles in several publications and websites. Exposure from this media attention, which includes this recent blurb in Business West, has exposed the park to a web circulation of about 172,000 and a print circulation of around 20,000.
• After a detailed discussion of its insurance needs, the board voted to authorized its Finance Committee to hold a special meeting next Tuesday to choose a new insurance policy for the site. PEDA is seeking to replace its current $50 million policy, which expires this month, with a less costly policy in the neighborhood of $10 million
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