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The city is planning a $6 million makeover of Tyler Street from First Street to Woodlawn Avenue that will include creating a roundabout at the problematic Woodlawn intersection.
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Pittsfield Gets $3M MassWorks Grant for Tyler Street Improvements

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Revamping Tyler to make it more attractive and safer for all modes of transportation follows the multi-year makeover of North and South Streets. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield has received a $3 million MassWorks Infrastructure Grant for improvements on Tyler Street. 

With these funds, the city will be fixing the problematic intersection of Tyler Street and Woodlawn Avenue and doing streetscape improvements on roads, sidewalks, and crosswalks.

The estimated budget for these improvements is $6 million. The city has locally lined up half of the budget through a capital project approval and the grant will fund the other half of the expenses.

City Planner CJ Hoss said the costs will come out to 50/50 between the city and the grant funding, with the city paying more if necessary.

The MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program provides funds to municipalities and other eligible public entities for infrastructure projects that support and accelerate housing production, spur private development, and create jobs.

Hoss explained that two capital projects — the intersection improvements and the streetscape improvements — were merged into one project that the grant will fund. He said it made sense to bring them both on the same track so they can be done synchronously in a single construction project.

"It’s been a long-standing problem," Hoss said about the dangerous intersection that will be transformed into a roundabout

The streetscapes portion will incorporates a number of goals the city has for Tyler Street along a stretch of that runs from First Street to Woodlawn Avenue.

Overall, the plan is to make it a so-called "Complete Street," meaning that it would incorporate and prioritize many forms of transportation in line with the state's Complete Streets program.

Hoss said that the street tends to be car-centric and that the reconstruction would make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists with dedicated bike lanes and bus stops. Hoss said the city eventually hopes to have bus stop shelters.

The city hopes that dedicating bus stops on Tyler Street will also help improve the efficiency of bus lines.

Construction is estimated to start next summer with the goal of the project's completion being the summer of 2022, Hoss said.

The city is in the process of contacting property owners and businesses, especially those where there will be changes near their property. The city will be doing this through the holidays and, in January, will hold a more formal public meeting, likely over Zoom, where there will be a discussion formal plans for the improvements.

Hoss said it is a priority to make residents and business owners aware of the changes, making sure that no residents are surprised when construction begins.

In addition to holding a public meeting, direct letters will be sent to business and property owners to give them a brief primer of what the city is planning and how they can participate and reach out.

"At this point, now that this is becoming more real, we want to make sure that everyone is prepared for this," Hoss said. "We’re at a stage where we really want to blanket, especially the property owners right on Tyler street, just to make sure that they are aware this is happening. 

"Just because we have been talking about it now for a few years and these things take some time to come together. So we want to make sure they are well aware that this wasn’t just talk, that we are planning on starting this project next year."

Hoss noted that this project is making a commitment to ensuring that these improvements don’t cut out a substantial amount of parking on Tyler Street. Being an old neighborhood, many of the properties were built before the reliance on cars and don't have dedicated parking.

The city is sensitive and accommodating to this, prioritizing parking in the street's design, he said..

This project also aims to provide property owners with greater accessibility to their buildings, which is something Hoss said planners are currently brainstorming.  

The city has done outreach with Tyler Street Business Group in the past and will be meeting with them to discuss this project. The group works to promote Tyler Street as a place to do business, shop, dine, work, live, attend events, and enjoy recreational activities.

Tags: complete streets,   MassWorks grant,   tyler street,   

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MassWildlife Asks Public Not to Feed 'GE Deer'

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — If you have ever driven down New York Avenue and seen the deer grazing behind the fencing that encases General Electric's property, it is likely that you have been inclined to feed them.

Though this action is rooted in kindness, it is not healthy for the woodland friends and could be fatal, which is why MassWildlife has put up signs asking that residents do not throw food over the fences.

"Obviously, people see the deer in there and they probably think 'what are they going to eat? They're limited in there they're stuck in there.'  I will say, they're definitely not stuck in there," MassWildlife's wildlife biologist Nathan Buckhout said.

For decades, the deer have found an unlikely sanctuary in the former GE site that includes two landfills, Hill 78 and Building 71. Buckhout explained that they have been there for decades, spawning offspring and becoming completely self-sufficient within the fenced area.

"They're doing just fine," he said. "And they obviously are getting enough food and water, otherwise their population would be limited, they wouldn't be able to produce their offspring so there would be fewer fawns, and eventually they probably would have disappeared — but they haven't."

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