Pittsfield is embarking on a third phase of street improvements. The $3 million project was set to begin on Monday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Construction work will begin this month throughout multiple locations of the downtown area as the city begins to implement renovation plans for two pedestrian plazas as well as the third phase of its streetscape reconstruction.
Streetscape construction began on Monday and will include the stretch of North Street between Madison Avenue and Wahconah Street.
"The construction may have a short-term impact on the immediate area," Mayor Daniel Bianchi told iBerkshires. "We appreciate everyone's patience as we move into the next steps of beautifying the downtown area."
The third stage of the streetscape
will continue the improvements seen in Phase 2 renovations from Park Square to Columbus Avenue, completed in 2012, and will follow similar blueprints.
Improved and upgraded sidewalks and new traffic signals will be among the changes, as well as the planting of 33 trees in raised beds along both sides of the street. Bike racks and and ornamental poles for banners and decorations continuing the aesthetic seen in Phase 2 will also be part of the project.
The project will have an estimated cost of $3 million, two-thirds of it funded from a grant from the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, announced by Gov. Patrick last fall
. Two more phases, totaling approximately another $5 million, are planned as part of the streetscape improvements.
Second phase work was a source of some controversy among some North Street merchants throughout the summer of 2012. Many of them were vocally upset about the impact on access and parking amidst ongoing concerns about what has been perceived by some as a lack of downtown parking.
On July 17, belated renovations to two 40-year-old "pocket parks" will also begin, a $965,000 project allocated for in a previous year's capital budget.
Sottile Park, on the corner of North and Eagle streets, will be rehabbed to its original condition, while Persip Park, across North at the corner of Columbus, will undergo significant changes, including a small stage area, new benches, planters and small grassy areas.
Design plans for both plazas were presented at a sparsely attended public hearing in January
, when they faced rigorous questioning and some criticism.
“We will make every possible accommodation to keep impact on businesses to a minimum," said Bianchi of the projects.
According to the administration, traffic around the intersections of these two parks will be guided with signs, cones and drums, and police officers will assist pedestrians safely through the construction area when needed.
"In the long term, streetscape will have a tremendous, beneficial effect on the downtown and the entire community," said Bianchi.