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The design for BMC area improvements isn't far enough along for construction in 2017.

BMC Area Intersection Reconstruction Delayed to 2018

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Peter Frieri says the project may not even be able to to bid in 2018.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Plans for the reconstruction of the intersections near Berkshire Medical Center will not be ready in time.
 
Peter Frieri, of the state Department of Transportation's 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 well as eliminate the fork dividing traffic at North and First streets. The city allocated matching funds of $90,000 for the first phase and $82,000 for the second through the state Chapter 90 program in 2014 to move the design along. The city was granted $349,997 from MassDOT for the design work.
 
Funding for the project is from federal funds over two years allocated for road projects in the county and by not being ready to go to bid then, that leaves $2.5 million for other projects. 
 
"We're looking at the projects that are available and trying to make the funding and readiness fit," Frieri said.
 
Right now, there are no projects ready in the pipeline. The county's Metropolitan Planning Organization uses the federal highway funds and its advisory board, the Transportation Advisory Committee, is recommending they be listed as "to be determined" while MassDOT more closely examines other projects that fit both the timeline and the funding.
 
"If a project is going to be in 2017 or 2018, they want it to have a public hearing and rights of way," Frieri said.
 
The delay could open the door to move along a project in Clarksburg. There is a $3.4 million resurfacing project on Route 8 that could start in 2017 if there are no right-of-way issues. But at this point, the design work hasn't even begun.
 
In that scenario, the $900,000 difference in cost between the two projects would require the reconstruction of the Route 2 and Phelps Avenue intersection in North Adams to be bumped to 2018, instead of 2017.
 
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission's Senior Transportation Planner Anuja Koirala presented the options to the TAC on Tuesday but ultimately, since there are unknowns about any project's viability in that year, the recommendation from Frieri was to leave it to be determined.
 
"This scenario looks good but Clarksburg is a MassDOT project and MassDOT is not sure if they will be ready to have the project ready to go in 2017," Koirala said.
 
Frieri said there is also the possibility for a $5.3 million project on Route 23 in Otis to be reduced in size to utilize the funding.
 
"It is kind of a puzzle putting it together," he said, but added that Federal Highway would rather see something to be determined rather than have a project fall through.
 
TAC Chairman Sam Haupt agreed with leaving the funds without a designated project for now, citing that the county hasn't left money on the table through the process in more than a decade.
 
 "I don't think there should be any reasonable fear that that money will disappear," he said.
 
MassDOT will be moving along with a reconstruction of the intersection of Center Street and West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield despite an increase in cost. That project is scheduled for this year at a cost of $2 million. The transportation plan had used up all of the 2016 funds but Koirala took funding eyed for the Housatonic Street reconstruction in Dalton and allocated future years' funds to complete it. The Dalton project uses federal funds over multiple years so she increased the 2017 allocation to finish it. 
 
"It looks good. There is no money in 2017, which is good. We don't want to leave money out there," Koirala said.
 
And there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for Hinsdale's reconstruction of the Skyline Trail. That project has been awaiting funds for more than 20 years. Four communities banded together to do most of the work but the Hinsdale portion was never completed. The TIP is asking the MPO to pencil in that project for 2021.

Tags: federal highway,   intersection,   MPO,   roadwork,   transportation,   

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