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MassDOT is planning a roundabout for the complex intersection at Berkshire Medical Center.

Pittsfield Residents Call for 'No More Roundabouts'

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Nearly 100 residents are up in arms about a traffic-calming measure for busy intersections.

On Tuesday, the City Council will tackle a citizens' petition that reads "To the City Council of Pittsfield- No more roundabouts."

The petition from Deborah Cooper has garnered nearly 90 signatures.

Last year, the problematic intersection of Tyler Street, Tyler Street Extension, Dalton Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue was converted into a roundabout. Data has shown that a roundabout decreases the rate of injury caused during crashes, though a slight increase in crashes has occurred in the first year.

The state Department of Transportation is planning an overhaul of the corridor near Berkshire Medical Center that includes converting North Street between Tyler Street and Stoddard Avenue into one-way southbound traffic, a roundabout, bike lanes and shared-use paths, and new sidewalks.

On the council agenda is also an order of taking by eminent domain for the intersection and signal improvements at First and North Street near BMC. Construction is planned to begin this month.

The city also looked at improving pedestrian safety on the West Street corridor after resident Shaloon Milord was struck by a car and killed crossing West Street near Dorothy Amos Park in January.

The conversation includes a proposal for a roundabout at West Street and lower West Street.

MassDOT defines roundabouts as being safer than a traditional traffic signal or all-way stop-controlled intersections because they have fewer conflict points between turning vehicles, through traffic and people crossing.

The agency says tight roundabout circles and curbed median islands promote slower driving speeds that give drivers more time to react to people in crosswalks or other vehicles and that slower vehicle speeds also result in less severe crashes if they do occur.

The state must go through a public outreach phase to solicit input from stakeholders and residents.

According to MassDOT, since Jan. 1, 2022, there have been five crashes at the Tyler Street roundabout with zero injuries. One "Front-to-Front," one "Rear-End," one "angle," one "Side-Swipe," and one "Unknown."

The annual crash rate (for the most severe consequence) of minor property damage is 3.6, with the crash rate for minor injury, major injury, and death at zero.

Data from the four years prior to the roundabout shows some years with fewer crashes but a consistent number of injuries. The annual crash rate for minor property damage was 1.66 and the crash rate for minor injury was 1.33.

  • 2018 – 2 crashes, 1 injury
  • 2019 – 5 crashes, 1 injury
  • 2020 – 2 crashes, 1 injury
  • 2021 (before roundabout) – 3 crashes, 2 injuries

"This data indicates and confirms prior studies that while roundabouts may result in a slight increase in crashes, the severity of such crashes is reduced," Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales said in an email.
"In the case of the Tyler St. roundabout, severity related to injury decreased 100 percent year over year while only resulting in a 20  percent increase of crashes (which all resulted in minor property damage and no injury)."


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Pittsfield ZBA Grants Casella Permit for Waste Transfer Facility

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Zoning Board of Appeals calls Casella's planned redevelopment of the former trash incinerator an improvement to the site.

Last week, the panel approved a special permit to allow a waste transfer facility at the site on 500 Hubbard Ave. Casella Waste Management purchased the waste transfer facility on Hubbard Avenue from Community Eco Power LLC, which filed for bankruptcy in 2021 and has demolished it for redevelopment into a waste transfer station.

The owners say the trash will be brought to the facility and transferred away daily. Concerns that were voiced about the project include odor and impacts to the surrounding area but Casella says the new operation will be less of an impact than the former.

"I think this is going to be a vast improvement based upon the facility that was there previously. I know that sometimes you would get a sight of the other one, they used to dump the waste and it was laying like a floating pond," board member John Fitzgerald said.

"And since the trash is not going to be there, it's going to be in and out, I think the odor will be reduced and I think the vermin will be reduced."

It was also pointed out that the site has handled trash for 40 years.

"I think a lot of the odor before was related to burning," board member Esther Anderson "And there's not going to be burning so it it's going to be greatly reducing the amount of odor and if it's not sitting there is no place for vermin to be."

The former incinerator, including a 118-foot tall stack, has already been demolished a fabric structure is being used temporarily for waste handling.

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