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Mark Arigoni of SLR Consulting explains plans for a tunnel under Woodlawn Avenue to the PEDA board on Friday morning.
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The tunnel would be constructed on the north side of the railroad tracks.

William Stanley Business Park Considers Tunnel Under Woodlawn

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Mark Arigoni shows how the tunnel would connect Sites 7,8 and 9 without having to use Woodlawn or Kellog streets. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Officials are considering building an access tunnel under Woodlawn Avenue for easy travel between the William Stanley Business Park's sites.
 
Using MassDevelopment funds, the business park did a feasibility study of creating a 15-by-15 foot wide, 48-foot long box culvert underneath the road and found that it would be possible at the cost of $1.3 million to $1.7 million.
 
It would connect Sites 7, 8, and the large Site 9 at the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Tyler Street Extension.
 
The proposed tunnel would be north of the train tracks that run through the property.
 
The city's Business Development Manager Michael Coakley explained to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority board on Friday that there is a large light manufacturing and product distribution company interested in all three sites.
 
The company's concern is needing to use the well-traveled Woodlawn Avenue and Kellogg Street to move between the sites.  
 
"One of the things that they needed was access between sites seven, eighth, and nine," he said. "We've looked at the rail, but there wasn't enough room there, and we don't want to have their trucks and things going over the road, so we looked at the feasibility of doing a tunnel between site seven eight, and nine."
 
He added that another local company has expressed interest in building on Site 3 north, right next to the Berkshire Innovation Center.  This developer would have three anchor tenants, which would aid the finances to put the project together.
 
Whether the companies come through or not, Coakley believes a tunnel would be an asset.
 
Mark Arigoni of SLR Consulting seconded that, explaining that the project would be beneficial for any possible developers and would stay in line with the rest of the business park.
 
With a height of 15 feet, he said, a tractor-trailer could easily drive through the tunnel in one-way traffic. The design is being kept at a maximum of 15 feet high so that it doesn't compromise the road above.  
 
"Travel lanes on roadways are 11 feet wide, so 15 feet, to me, gives a lot of comfort, to be able to drive through that one way, so there'll be a stop condition," Arigoni explained. "That 15 feet as I mentioned before, what we really don't want to do is impact the grade of Woodlawn."
 
Though he could not predict exactly how long the project would take, his firm has done similar projects over a weekend. Arigoni cited the fact that Woodlawn Avenue was closed for a long time before it reopened in 2016.
 
He said that because of the bridge's recent construction, there would not be major utilities that would have to be relocated.
 
PEDA has only gone as far as the feasibility study for this project and there are no official decisions or contracts on the table.
 
Site 9 is a location that General Electric abandoned with its departure decades ago. Pittsfield received $880,000 in Site Readiness Program funding in March from the state's Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development for redevelopment of the site. 
 
The 16-acre parcel is the largest and most prominent section of the business park.
 
In March, Coakley reported that he had presented the parcel to several businesses who were reluctant to invest funds into space because of its current condition and the costs associated with the preparation of the site.
 
It was estimated that about half of the grant funding will go toward removing the concrete from the parcel to make for green space and development.

Tags: business park,   PEDA,   tunnel,   

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Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership Discusses Priorities for Forest Center

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The executive committee of the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership on Thursday encouraged collaborators working on ideas for a forest center not to reinvent the wheel.
 
A pair of students in Williams College's Environmental Planning and Design program gave a presentation to the board about a survey they plan to assess priorities for the center, "an ambitious, somewhat nebulous concept right now but ... part of the enabling legislation establishing the partnership," according to the partnership's Chair Hank Art.
 
That legislation empowered a collaboration of 19 towns and cities in Berkshire and Franklin Counties to increase natural resource-based economic development and promote sustainable forestry practices in the region.
 
Sabrine Brismeur and Abby Matheny of Williams are working with the partnership to develop early concepts of what a permanent home for the MTWP might include and where it might be located.
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