Saturday July 7, 2012

The lion’s share of the funding for the Great Barrington Main Street reconstruction project was tentatively put in place Friday when President Barack Obama signed a $105 billion federal transportation bill.

The bill was passed by Congress last week and authorizes $1.2 billion in federal highway funds for Massachusetts over the next two years.

The Berkshires will receive only a small fraction of that money. But $5.2 million has been authorized for the reconstruction of Main Street, and $1.44 million for the replacement of the Clark Road bridge in Sandisfield.

"It’s continued good news that the funding source is moving ahead," said Great Barrington Town Manager Kevin O’Donnell.

The town planned to submit its 75 percent design to the state on Friday, according to O’Donnell, and the project is still on schedule to go out to bid around December, which will allow the vast majority of work to be completed by the fall of 2013.

The Berkshire County Met ro politan Planning Organi zation still has to sign off on the projects when it meets on Tuesday.

Federal funding makes up 80 percent of the total allocation for these projects and requires a 20 percent match from the state. As of now, the state funding isn’t in place, but a member of the Berkshire delegation is "very optimistic" it will be by the end of the legislative session on July 31.


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"If we don’t do it, there’s going to be some other state that’s going to be more than happy to take those federal dollars," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox.

The state Legislature needs to approve a $1.3 billion transportation bond bill that is currently in conference, otherwise the funds will be returned to the federal government.

The state also expects to receive $690 million over the next two years in transit funding to be split between the 15 regional transit authorities and the MBTA.