MassDOT Holds Public Hearing For East Street Reconstruction Proposal
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is in the 25 percent design stage of a $9 million to $10 million reconstruction of East Street, or Route 9.
On Thursday, MassDOT held a public hearing for the proposed overhaul that extends about a half-mile from the westerly side of East Street near Lyman Street to the easterly side at the intersection of Merril Road.
Project elements include widening of the existing roadway, turn lanes at intersections, a 14-foot grass median, reconstructed traffic signals, and infrastructure that is currently lacking.
The Federal Highway Administration is funding 80 percent of the total construction costs with MassDOT funding the additional 20 percent. It is scheduled to be programmed with the statewide Transportation Improvement Program in fiscal 2026.
The project goal is to improve safety, accessibility, and aesthetics with minimum impacts to the environment while supporting Pittsfield as a gateway city.
Several elements within the roadway prompted the need for a reconstruction proposal. MassDOT identified issues with traffic management, outdated equipment, and deficient accommodation for multi-modal forms of transportation including Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations.
Project engineer Paul Milewski described the current sidewalk conditions as "deteriorating." He also cited a lack of proper ADA compliance on a curb cut at Lyman Street looking East and a confusing unused driveway that is blocked by concrete barriers among other issues.
The corridor also has insufficient drainage which calls for a new stormwater drainage system included in the proposal.
This section of East Street is largely comprised of commercial and retail spaces with a couple of residential properties, all of which will be considered during the process.
During construction, roadways will remain open to vehicular traffic with lane shifts implements to keep two lanes open. Travel lanes may be reduced to one-lane traffic outside of rush hours to minimize disruption to travelers and abutters.
"We want to make sure we pay close attention to the abutters, those folks that are directly impacted by this project construction," Milewski said. "So we want to make sure we maintain access to all the residences and businesses while also considering access management."
In line with the city's efforts in accommodating multimodal means of traffic, the plan includes 5-foot wide buffered bike lanes on both sides of the roadway along with concrete sidewalks and ADA-compliant curb ramps.
Existing traffic signals at the intersection of East Street and Woodlawn Avenue and at the intersection of East Street and Merrill Road will also be reconstructed.
The team has identified environmental concerns that will be addressed with proper permitting and guidance. Concerns include stormwater management, the impact of wetlands, and contaminated soils containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) related to the former General Electric manufacturing operations on the site.
Consulting agencies involved in the proposal are the Pittsfield Conservation Commission, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers in relation to environmental concerns.
In addition, there are several steps of environmental permitting that are required.
The 25 percent design proposal was submitted in January 2017. Since then, there have been some design standards that have changed in relation to bike accommodations and extensive environmental permitting to satisfy requirements.
The expected design and permitting completion and right of way process is projected for winter of 2024-2025 and construction is slated to begin in 2026.
The next steps for the project team are to continue to address comments on the 25 percent design, continue the permitting process, and maintain coordination with MassDOT and the City of Pittsfield.
Berkshire Regional Transportation Authority general manager Rauley Caine told the project team that the authority received requests from customers who want improved lighting at bus facilities and requested for that to be prioritized.
The city's Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales was also in attendance at the meeting and has been in conversation with the project team about the proposal.
Public input on the renovations is welcomed and encouraged. Written statements can be sent to:
Carrie Lavallee, P.E., Acting Chief Engineer, MassDOT, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116, Attention: Project Management, Project File No. 604003.
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