GB Main Street Reconstruction to begin in JulyMore Info
Great Barrington — It’s coming.
Right around the corner.
Sooner than you thought.
Mid-July. Three weeks away, four weeks max. Around July 14. Bastille Day.
What everyone in Great Barrington as well as those in neighboring towns – residents, tourists and second-homers alike — have been waiting for and – to varying degrees — dreading.
The $5 million, state-funded Main Street Reconstruction Project that will replace sidewalks, trees, road surface, lights, crosswalks and traffic signals from St. James Place (Taconic Avenue) to Cottage Street.
On Tuesday, June 24, Maxymillian Inc. of Dalton, the low bidder for the project, received the notice to proceed (NTP). Contracts signed and finalized; state funds approved.
DOT provided an update on the project to town officials at a meeting June 25 at the South County offices of Berkshire Community College.
Work will begin in mid- to late-July, according to Joseph Sokul, superintendent of Public Works.
It will take 600 days of construction to get the job done, he added.
The Department of Transportation’s project schedule confirms his estimate.
Work is to begin in this summer, and conclude in the spring of 2016. The cost of the accepted construction bid is $5,008,241.86. The initial construction estimate was $4,217,482.50. The bid does not include more than $1 million the town has paid to the Springfield-based engineering firm, Fuss & O’Neill, for design of the reconstruction.
Although construction crews will be mobilizing in July, work won’t proceed in the downtown core from Bridge to Elm streets. At the fringes. The Cottage Street intersection with Main.
“Bridge to Elm is blacked out,” Sokul noted, “during July and August.”
By agreement with the town – and with the merchants who fear major disruption to their businesses – the contract had stipulated that work in the commercial center of town would be suspended during the peak tourist season.
“The first thing that’s going to happen is Maxymillian is going to put up a lot of signs,” Sokul explained. “That will be the indication that construction is about to begin.”
The work at the Cottage Street intersection will involve rebuilding drainage and utility lines.
“There’s a new gas main that’s being installed down Main Street,” he said, “and with other utility work there’s a lot of underground work. There will be no paving this year.”
But he added that the state has not yet submitted a schedule for the all the phases of the work.
“I haven’t seen a schedule yet, but we are real happy with Maxymillian having gotten the job,” he said. “They did the work on North Street in Pittsfield, and they have experience in Berkshire County and with this kind of project.”
On Thursday evening, June 26, Town Planner Christopher Rembold alerted the Planning Board of the impending commencement of Main Street reconstruction.
“The major work of the Main Street Reconstruction, the full depth reconstruction between Elm and Bridge streets, will begin in the spring of 2015,” he told the board. “Work will begin at 7 a.m., and stop at 3:30 p.m. There will be access to sidewalks at all times, and two lanes of traffic at all times.”
In the spring of 2016, he said, the Bradford pear trees that had been removed during the construction will replaced with 81 new plantings (See related article).
During the construction phase, there will be weekly updates on its progress, and Maxymillian and the state will establish a project office at 271 Main St., he noted.
“Maxymillian has a great reputation with DOT,” he said, “and they have a great relationship with the engineers.”
Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin declined to comment on the details of this phase of the reconstruction project, since DOT has not formally announced when the work is to begin.
She referred inquiries to the DOT press office in Boston, which did provide the general timetable for the project.
DOT describes the reconstruction this way: “The project will rehabilitate Main Street beginning at Cottage Street and ending at St. James Place. Work will include milling, overlay and some full depth reconstruction. Sidewalks will be reconstructed, drainage will be improved and traffic signs will be coordinated. Period lighting and landscaping may also be included.