A New Holmes Road Bridge is Near, MassDOT Tells Residents
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation plans to close the Holmes Road bridge on June 23 and reopen a new structure on Aug. 25.
An informational meeting was held Tuesday evening for community members to receive an update on the project that has caused grief to the surrounding area for several years.
"The city has been working with MassDOT on this closely, following their schedule," Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales said.
"We have been working with the community as well in some instances, especially with the abutters, so I think this is long coming. It's been awhile but we're finally here."
Fire Chief Thomas Sammons said the city firefighters are occupying Lenox's north station not far over the city line on Route 7 during the shutdown to respond to emergencies in that area.
"If you guys need us we'll be there," he said. "And then the rest of the troops will be on their way if there's an emergency requiring more than just one engine."
The bridge has been reduced to one lane for four years after being found structurally insufficient and needing a $3.5 million replacement of the overpass structure. This includes a new structure over the Housatonic Rail line, a restored sidewalk, improved bicycle access, new pavement, and new traffic barriers.
Northern Construction Service LLC was awarded the project and has begun abutment repairs under the bridge adjacent to the railroad. An access road was constructed to facilitate the transport of heavy equipment needed for the work.
State Rep. Tricia Farley Bouvier explained that she has heard concerns about the more than 60-day shutdown and facilitated a meeting to answer questions, as her job is to be the "connectives tissue between city and state."
"It's not going to be the way we want it to be for 63 days. We're not going to like it," she advised the residents.
"There's going to be more traffic on Colt Road and on Pomeroy Avenue and on Crofut. We're not going to like it but we're going to have a bridge in 63 days, not two years, and that part is going to be better."
She recalled the last public meeting in 2022 when the expedited process was first proposed.
"I didn't really know what people were going to think about it, especially the abutters," Farley-Bouvier said. "And it was very clear from the abutters, in particular in this room, wanted the expedited schedule."
MassDOT representative Scott Stevens also reported that the state has been in constant conversation with the city to make sure everyone is on the same page and the process goes smoothly.
Though it isn't an ideal situation, he promised quick construction to get the essential route operational before the school year. Finishing touches are scheduled for completion on September 22.
He provided an estimated schedule that begins with demolition on June 23, replaces the bridge by mid-August, paves it one month after demolition, and opens on Aug. 25. Work has been ongoing underneath the bridge.
There will be a signaged 1.4-mile detour that takes a right onto Pomeroy Avenue, a left onto Crofut Street, a left onto Route 7/20, and ends at the Holmes Road intersection.
Signal timing adjustments will be coordinated between MassDOT and the city.
Community members expressed concerns about detour traffic, signage, and general impacts from the construction but are thankful that the final stretch is near.
"Who is bringing the doughnuts for the guys at Northern Construction?" Holmes Road resident Melissa Rosen asked. "Because I'll sign up for the first day. I want to make sure they power through this."
Colt Road resident Julia Kaplan spoke of the existing traffic volume on her street.
"Even now, the amount of traffic volume coming up Colt Road is beyond anything that I've experienced in 12 years since this traffic on Homes Road is now backing, up backing, up backing up," she said.
"And also people on Crofut are also seeing additional traffic of course. I'm concerned about the speed limit being enforced. I'm concerned that maybe Colt Road should be one way. I'm concerned about the traffic light a Crofut and South Street, the timing needs to be changed. That whole section of South Street, the timing is terrible. It just backs up from the center of town all the way out into Dan Fox Drive so I'm hoping that either the state or the county or locally, we can address the traffic issues on Crofut, Colt, Pomeroy, and South Street. It's really getting dangerous."
Morales said the city will work with the state to look at South Street's signal timing and will monitor the streets around the detour to minimize impacts.
Direct abutter Ingrid Macgillis thanked the officials for their compassion during the years of struggles that the bridge has caused and urged the city to look into enforcement for traffic violations once it is completed.
"We need enforcement on this road," she said.
Arrowhead's Executive Director Lesley Herzberg asked if there is any way to include signage that points out the historical site is still open, as the closure will occur during the tourism season.
Stevens said it is MassDOT policy not to cite specific businesses but perhaps Arrowhead could work with the city to come up with a solution.
"Please be patient," District Highway Director Francisca Heming said. "You're going to have a bridge for a long long time and you won't have to worry about it."
Tags: bridge project, MassDOT,