PITTSFIELD -- The initial paving of South Street will begin Tuesday, as the contractor will begin to smooth over what's been a bumpy ride for motorists for the past month. The new pavement is part of a two-year, $6 million reconstruction project of the city's busiest roadway.
Starting Tuesday morning, the two gravel areas on South Street between Crofut and Harding streets will get a first coat of asphalt.
Crofut will be closed to through traffic Tuesday morning to facilitate paving of the intersection, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which is overseeing and funding the construction work.
The rest of the first round of paving, weather permitting, will be Wednesday through Friday southbound from West Housatonic Street to Spadina Parkway, and the northbound lane from Spadina to Taconic Street.
One lane of traffic in each direction will be maintained at all times.
MassDOT officials said they expect the project to shut down for the winter by mid-November and to be completed by June 2014.
Department spokesman Michael Verseckes said the rest of this year's work will include paving the widened area from South Mountain Road to the Berkshire Life Co. and to begin the installation of new traffic signals at Crofut Street, Gamwell Avenue, and the entrance to Berkshire Life.
The final coat of asphalt on South Street will be laid next spring.
"When people see this first pavement, it's not the finished product," said Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan N. Lothrop, who represents the South Street area. "But given the road has been in bad shape for years, it's good to see this project moving forward."
Since April, the contractor -- J.H. Maxymillian of Pittsfield -- has been mainly installing new curbing and drainage along most of the 1.4-mile stretch of road from the entrance to Berkshire Life, north to the intersection with Taconic and Reed streets.
Specifically, the contractor has been working on a retaining wall, new curbing and a sidewalk in the Northbound lane between Crofut Street and the city's park on Veterans Way.
An upgrade of the signalized intersections at South Mountain Road and Warren Terrace are planned for later in the project.
City officials say the South Street work has been long overdue because the road has taken a beating for more than a decade.
South Street to Park Square is the city's most traveled thoroughfare, and that's a main reason why two-way traffic has been maintained during construction.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.