Adams Selectman Chairman John Duval said the Route 8 project is more than just paving, it is correcting a nuisance for nearby homeowners.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — It is back to "ground zero" for the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail extension to Hodges Cross Road.
According to Mark Moore, of MassDOT District 1, negotiations with landowners have reached a roadblock and now designers have to go back to the drawing board to find a new way to bring the trail farther north.
"There were high hopes that that was going to be worked through the process," Moore said.
"Unfortunately, things changed and we are no longer able to negotiate with the farmer."
The rail trail has been slowly expanding over time and just last year was extended to Lime Street in Adams. The next spur was going to be to Hodges Cross Road and was eyed to go under construction in 2019. That, however, is now delayed.
"We'll have to go back to ground zero in planning and figure out how we are going to move the trail north," Moore said.
Eventually, the trail's goal is to connect with a bike path through to Williamstown. Mayor Thomas Bernard said the city is still dedicated toward connecting the bike paths at both ends of the city.
"Hopefully there is some accommodation that can be reached over time. It is going to stall the project and I don't know what that is going to mean for funding. But the focus continues to be on that stretch, knowing we need to have the Adams, North Adams spur moving forward," Bernard said on Tuesday.
Ultimately, funding sources for both ends were identified. And both projects have faced rights-of-way issues with property owners along their given stretches. Pittsfield's extension also saw a delay when designers had to craft a redesign to circumvent truck traffic on property owned by Petricca Industries. When the extension was first envisioned, Petricca hadn't been using as much of the land but with a massive bridge contract, the concrete company has quickly expanded along that property. And so, the state asked for a redesign to limit pedestrians' intersections with truck traffic.
Pittsfield is still progressing with its design. The plans for the North Adams extension will have its own redesign.
Now that the $5.5 million in federal funds is freed up, Adams may be able to receive funding to repair Route 8 a year earlier than expected. The Metropolitan Planning Organization is considering moving that $4.4 million up to 2019 from its current target date of 2020.
That project is particularly important for the residents along that stretch, whose homes are being shaken by vehicles driving by because of errors in the construction of water lines.
"We've come across an issue, which is probably about an eighth of a mile, that we had some water pipes replaced in the road. It was done by the Water District, not the town, and as you drive through there you can feel the bumps as you go by each house that the water lines are connected to," Selectman John Duval said.
"The fill and the paving of the water line weren't done correctly and we've been working with the insurance company of the business that did that work trying to get some funding."
Duval said the town has been made the project a focus because of those concerns.
"They feel every vehicle that goes by their house. They feel the bump. Some of their furniture or knick-knacks are moving, especially when it is a tractor-trailer. So it is not just repaving it," Duval said.
However, Moore also has concerns about the readiness of that project. He said the state has rejected the 25 percent design submission "due to some significant engineering errors."
"The biggest concern is that the 25 percent submission was rejected due to some significant engineering errors in the design. While I have a great deal of confidence in the designer's ability to produce, I have concerns in the designer's workload at the moment," he said.
Moore said particularly there is a number of legal steps and actions that need to be done before the project can go to construction. He feels the timeline is tight in getting the design completed, finalizing easements, advertising and hosting public hearings, and ultimately getting the contract to bid.
"There is a very significant right of way because of the bike lane, sidewalk construction. So we have to get the project designed, to public hearing, and then get right of way plans that the municipality can work with and take time to acquire. There are a lot of steps that have to occur," Moore said.
Town officials are expected to meet with state Department of Transportation officials about the project on Thursday.
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