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North Adams has the highest intersection by severity with 16 injury crashes within five years.

BRPC Developing Action Plan for Safer Roads, Crosswalks

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A countywide effort is developing a systematic approach to roadway safety for motorists and pedestrians. 
Three public sessions were planned with the third is set for 10 a.m. Friday at the Great Barrington firehouse on State Road. There is also a Zoom option.  The first two were held Thursday: at North Adams at noon and in Dalton at the public library at 5:30.
The sessions are being hosted by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission for the Safe Travel and Equity Plan for our Streets (STEPS) initiative.
The nation, overall, has seen an uptick in the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities over the last decade, after tracking comparable to the European Union. Nicholas Russo, senior transportation planner at BRPC, said that's true of Berkshire County as well as fatalities have increased over the past five years. 
Pedestrian and bicycle accidents only make up about 2 percent of all incidents but 20 percent of the serious and fatal crashes.
North Adams has the No. 1 "intersection by severity" with 16 injury crashes and two serious injury crashes within a five-year span. No surprise, it's where Hodges Cross Road meets Curran Highway. The intersection became much busier over the past decade with the opening of the Walmart Supercenter and a Cumberland Farms. 
The initiative has also developed a dashboard highlighting problem traffic areas that will be available for the public to comment on. 
"People make mistakes. You need to have more safeguards in place for human error," Russo said. "Responsibility is shared between not just different users on the road, but between planners like me and engineers who design the roads, cities to maintain the roads, policymakers in state and federal government who work to make our biggest state we all have a role to play in this."
BRPC is working with engineering and design consultants Beta Group Inc., with offices in Chicopee, on developing an action plan for delivery in early 2025. 
The project is being funded by a Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) action plan grant of $198,593 from the Federal Highway Administration, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. This is a matching grant with the state Department of Transportation kicking in 20 percent for a total of $248,241.
Only a few people attended the North Adams' session, all via Zoom. But Russo said there have been about 80 responses so far to a survey and that BRPC has been in contact with stakeholders. 
The public sessions will be followed up with more in-depth interviews with agencies and officials. 
"That's where we'll start kind of prioritizing and focusing on parts of the county that need the most attention, either for past crashes and fatalities where we see high risk of future instances happening," said Russo. "And we will propose higher measures that would help correct those issues that we see in those high-risk locations."
The plan involves tracking and implementing projects to address issues such as speeding, tailgating, and passing school buses, with a focus on equity and community engagement. Prioritizing needs and solutions could open the doors to between $2.5 million and $5 million in grant funding for implementation. 
Remedies could range from more visible signage to traffic-calming measures to road reconstruction and roundabouts.
"But I think it's also important to note that you don't have to do something very expensive to improve safety," said Anna Sangree, transportation planner with Beta. "A raised crosswalk is extremely effective at making crossings safer so these things, for each location, you can think about what makes sense."

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Hundreds Still Without Power in North County, Stamford

A new pole is in place for a transformer on Main Road in Stamford. 

Update: The National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., has issued another severe thunderstorm watch until 8 p.m. for Berkshire County, eastern New York and Southern Vermont. 

STAMFORD, Vt. — Nearly 18 hours after severe thunderstorms pummeled the region, hundreds of customers are without power. 

The latest update estimates is that power will be back on at 2 p.m. in North Berkshire. Green Mountain Power's outage map could not provide an estimate on power restoration.  
Many residents woke up to the sounds of chainsaws and generators on Wednesday morning as clean up from the storm continued.
Stamford was hit hard with trees blocking roads and broken utility poles. Some 499 customers in Stamford and Readsboro were without power.
A post from Stamford's emergency management director said conditions in North Berkshire were delaying power re-energizing in the Vermont town because it's sourced from National Grid in Massachusetts. 
More than 800 customers were without power in Williamstown, Mass., as noon approached. Tree and lines down along Main Street had taken hours for National Grid crews to address and hampered their ability to aid smaller outages in nearby communities. 
Williamstown Police posted on Facebook that because of the extensive damage to the electrical supply lines to town, parts of Williamstown may not see power until later tonight or possibly tomorrow.
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