Great Barrington — Transforming downtown streets and sidewalks to help local businesses during COVID-19 carries a cost — and the state has stepped in with funds to help.
Great Barrington has received a $69,955 Shared Streets and Spaces grant, awarded by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
This “quick launch/quick build” grant program provides grants for cities and towns to quickly implement or expand improvements to sidewalks, curbs streets, public parking lots and other areas to support “public health, safe mobility and renewed commerce.”
“With this grant we are able to transform Railroad Street every Friday and Saturday evening,” said Christopher Rembold, Great Barrington’s assistant town manager and director of planning.
The grant covers the cost of temporary signage and barriers that are used to narrow the vehicle lane, freeing up space on the street for safe, socially distanced dining during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Superintendent of Public Works Sean Van Deusen added that the grant also pays for DPW labor to install and remove the barriers. “Outdoor dining has become even more popular, as well as necessary. So I’m pleased we were able to launch this program so quickly, and that we can cover our costs.”
Rembold said the “shared street” concept has been welcomed.
“People are enjoying it. There’s great food, great music, and beautiful surroundings,” he said. “With the support of the downtown business community we’re quickly becoming the outdoor dining destination of South Berkshire.”