Community Development Director Donna Cesan has been working on the project since 2012.
ADAMS, Mass. — It was 2012 when Community Development Director Donna Cesan first broached the idea of starting the process to reconstruct the southern portion of Route 8 from Center Street to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail bridge.
At Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting, she was happy to report that the final steps are all but finished and the project will go ahead this summer.
One of the last hurdles was obtaining both permanent and temporary easements and also the taking of small portions of land from abutters to accommodate the bike lane and slightly larger sidewalks.
"We actually in earnest started this project in 2012. We received notice that it was determined eligible for federal aid highway funding in December of that year. We were able to get it on the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) ... in 2013. We've had to update the project need forms every year to keep the project on the TIP," Cesan told the board.
The TIP is a federal program that identifies and prioritizes transportation projects in cooperation with the state and the local Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO). Once a project is placed on the TIP, progress must be made each year to justify keeping it there and in the pipeline for federal funds. Selectman John Duval has served on the MPO for the duration of the planning process.
A certain percentage of the design process must be met along with securing any necessary land takings and easements. Cesan said the majority of abutters agreed to the permanent easements at no cost but a handful did seek remuneration as is their right. The total for all the land acquisitions was just under $10,000 and was paid using Chapter 90 funds.
Town Administrator Jay Green explained the investment the staff has made in its effort to get this done.
"This project is quite substantial in terms of a full and complete reconstruction of the roadway. Full and complete reconstruction of stormwater as well as sanitary and sewer. Part of the requirement, because it's funded in part by federal and state funds, requires right of way clearance," Green said. "On my part ... and if I can speak for the board, I'd like to thank Donna and Becky [Ferguson] who have spent a tremendous amount of time working with all of our affected constituents to obtain these required clearances. The more proficient a community ... is in getting all of this work done allows us to capture more funds to complete the work and not really on the back of our taxpayers."
The sweat equity investment from town staff was substantial but Green highlighted the financial commitment as well.
"With the help of member Duval ... as well as Donna and Becky and her team we were able to maximize our Chapter 90 funds for engineering. We may have spent $600,000 on this project (since its inception in 2012) but the construction cost is pushing upwards of $9 million."
With the southern portion of Route 8 coming to fruition the conversation immediately turned to the northern stretch courtesy of Selectman Rick Blanchard: "So does this mean now we're going to start on the north side?"
The north end of Route 8 from the freshly paved Curran Highway in North Adams to the traffic circle at Friend Street is a minefield of potholes and patches. It's so bad, most motorists drive in the lefthand lane on the four-lane road to avoid the pothole-ridden right side.
Green mentioned the project is being pursued but that early estimates are not encouraging.
"What we're trying to do, knowing that this project is going to take a while, we've assessed that we need to do something faster. We will continue to fill those potholes but no sooner do we put blacktop down, even with our hotbox, than the roadway is coming back up," Green said. "We received three quotes, the standard method is a mill and fill (resurfacing), and we're just south of about $1 million. We do not have that amount of money out of our own accounts to do that. That's why, until we can get a full and complete project, we are working with part of our legislative delegation and our friends at MassDOT… asking 'OK, what can we do in the meantime.'"
ProAdams members say the Thunderfest will be held on March 7.
In more good news for drivers, Selectman James Bush announced the entirety of Crotteau Street and a portion of Murray Street will be refurbished this summer. The plan is for drainage, crosswalk, and sidewalk upgrades as well as a complete repaving of the roadway. The town received $300,000 from the state's Complete Streets program for the project. The town will be holding a public meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 6 p.m. to discuss the project. The meeting will be in the Selectmen's room and all residents are encouraged to attend.
Another public meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 20, to discuss the proposed commercial zoning changes for the southern part of town. It will be held at the Visitor's Center at 6pm.
Members of ProAdams were on hand to announce the date for the 9th annual Thunderfest celebration. The winter festival will be held on Saturday, March 7, starting at noon at the Visitors Center. The festival is a fun for all ages event featuring music, food, kids activities and a variety of local vendors.
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Officer Dabrowski has a lot of sports jerseys for Jersey Day.
ADAMS, Mass. — Police Officer Nicholas Dabrowski spent last week connecting with homebound Hoosac Valley Elementary pupils through a series of daily broadcasts.
Schools have been closed for two weeks and won't reopen until May because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. But Dabrowski, the school resource officer, wanted to make sure no one missed out on some school spirit.
"Social media has been so negative and I'd just wanted to let the kids know we're thinking of them and give them something to do each day," he said.
Dabrowski said although he tends to keep to himself he does have a "goofy side." One night during dinner, his wife encouraged him to utilize this to let the kids know he was thinking about them.
"My wife knew that I missed my time at the school," he said. "Much of our dinner conversations are centered around my conversations with the kids at lunch."
The piece in the Park Street gallery comprises an entire 24-roll pack of toilet paper strung out to create waves. It is part of Klein's "Uber Waves: Other Locations" exhibit that opened March 7.
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They have both been operating very similarly since the Covid-19 outbreak forced Gov. Charlie Baker to mandate that the restaurant industry offer only delivery or takeout and closed dining rooms across the state to eat-in customers.
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