Lenox, Tanglewood Preparing for Road Work
The $5.4 million reconstruction of West Street will include an 8-foot wide path to replace the meandering sidewalk.
Local and state officials met Thursday afternoon to work out any kinks in the plans to reconstruct 2.5 miles of road and sidewalk from the town center to the Stockbridge line.
"We're beginning to work out the coordination to ensure that there's no disadvantage to Tanglewood," said Jeffrey Simon, director of the state's Recovery and Reinvestment Agency. "It's going to really improve access when it's done."
Simon was in the Berkshires to highlight the impact of the federal American Recovery and Investment Act on the region, including the $3.6 million for the Route 183 project that's been more than a decade in waiting.
Town officials want to make sure construction doesn't deter the nearly 350,000 who visit Tanglewood each summer.
"This is the main road to get there," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli. "We've also got Kripalu and the de Sisto School down there. ... This is a major corridor."
The confusing center island at the intersection of Routes 183 and 7 will be eliminated.
The project includes straightening out the confusing (for visitors) intersection where Walker and West streets meet Main Street (Route 7), doing some culvert work, and installing an 8-foot wide concrete, handicapped accessible, multiple-use path all the way to the town line.
The path will replace and expand the current sidewalk, which becomes a meandering paved path along some sections of the road and ends before the Tanglewood main gate. The reconstruction will also allow for an extension of the town's sewer lines. Pignatelli said some 18 to 20 homes along the roadway will be able to hook into the town's sewer system, a big benefit because of failing septic systems in the neighborhood.
The project is expected to take two years to complete. It can't come soon enough for Pignatelli, who's been pushing for it for years. "He's really been a bulldog on this project," said Simon.
"This is going to be huge not only for Tanglewood, which is the economic engine of the Berkshires, but certainly to the town of Lenox," said Pignatelli. "This is a project I worked on when I was a selectmen 12 or 13 years ago.
"This has been a long time coming, and long overdue, but with the work of MassDot and Jeff Simon, in particular, we're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."