$15 Million Eyed For Berkshires In State Senate Bond Bill

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The crumbling Brown Street Bridge in North Adams is set to get $1.5 million should the transportation bond make it through the House and governor intact.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state Senate passed a transportation bill Thursday which sends $15 million to the Berkshires to improve roads, bridges and a parking garage.

The bill includes $6 million for the replacement of the parking garage between Columbus Avenue and Summer Street; $5 million for reconstruction of the Hubbard Avenue railroad overpass; $1.75 million for Thiel Road in Adams; $1.5 million for the Brown Street Bridge in North Adams and $750,000 for repairs to the bridge over the Housatonic River on Route 7 in Great Barrington.

"These important funds show our commitment to transportation across the state," said state Sen. Benjamin Downing in a prepared statement. "Transportation investment will not only keep our roads and bridges safe and reliable, but will also create jobs and promote economic development."

The bill also includes an amendment, co-sponsored by Downing, that releases up to $50 million to pay snow plow contractors for services rendered this winter. That funding was tied into a supplement budget not yet approved.

The bill also adds $1.5 billion in Chapter 90 funding statewide over the next five years. The Chapter 90 program allocated money to municipalities for road repairs.

The state's Complete Streets program also received $50 million to create a grant programs municipalities can apply for to improve all types of transportations including walking, cycling, public transportation, automobiles and freight.

The Senate and House of Representatives will now have to compromise a final draft of the bill before hitting Gov. Deval Patrick's desk for consideration.

The rest of the Senate version includes.

  •     $1.9 billion for interstate/non-interstate federal highways, which is approximately 80 percent federally reimbursable;
  •     $2.2 billion for non-federally aided roads and bridges;
  •     $125 million for the Department of Conservation and Recreation for repairs, improvements, construction of parkways and related equipment;
  •     $350 million for transportation facilities and rolling stock for improvements to facilities, urban development plans and the purchase and rehabilitation of rolling stock;
  •     $24 million for the mobility assistance program and regional intercity bus and intermodal services;
  •     $80 million for the statewide rail access program;
  •     $2.5 billion for heavy and light rail and bus projects to fund state of good repair projects, including on the Red, Orange and Green line cars;
  •     $55 million for the airport improvement program to allow for paving runways and upgrades;
  •     $63 million for Registry of Motor Vehicles modernization;
  •     $1.3 billion for Green Line extension projects;
  •     $175 million for Springfield-Worcester, Boston-Cape Cod and Pittsfield-NYC rail projects;
  •     $30 million for service improvements to the Knowledge Corridor Rail Line; and,
  •     $146.5 million for information technology at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Tags: bonding,   bridge work,   roads,   State Senate,   transportation,   

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Pittsfield School Committee Mourns Faculty Losses

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

The School Committee meets Wednesday night at Pittsfield High School.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Pittsfield School Committee remembered Taconic High School teacher Kevin Harrington on Wednesday night. 
Before opening up its meeting Wednesday, the committee members held their typical moment of silence but made a special mention of Harrington who passed just last week.
"We want to remember the very sudden and tragic loss of Kevin Harrington a special education teacher at Taconic," Chairwoman Katherine Yon said. "He was just that: a special man, a special teacher, a special mentor, and a special friend to many."
Harrington collapsed in a classroom at Taconic last week after a medical incident. He was, a special education teacher, was a former Taconic student and was heavily involved in the athletic program. 
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