PITTSFIELD >> Plans for a 1.5-mile extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail — from the Berkshire Mall entrance south to Crane Avenue — will be presented during a public hearing April 12.

Project design is at the significant 25 percent stage, according to city and MassDOT officials, and public input will be sought during a 6:30 p.m. session at Morningside Community School on Burbank Street.

Speaking via telephone on Wednesday, Francisca Heming, the District 1 MassDOT director, and project engineer Sonja Gray said that after the public has an opportunity to weigh in, the design work will be completed later this year prior to bidding of the $2.1 million project.

MassDOT engineer Peter Frieri said the goal is to seek construction bids during the next federal fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1.

Heming and Gray said the work is projected to take about one year to complete, but, if bid early enough could be completed during the 2017 construction season.

The officials said construction will be funded with designated federal and state allocations, 80 and 20 percent respectively. The city is responsible for the design work, which is being done by Fuss & O'Neill, along with any cost overage expense up to 10 percent, the state officials said.

The paved trail extension will be 10 feet wide and approximately 1.5 miles long. It will be a shared-use path, providing accommodations for pedestrian and bicyclists.


A new parking lot will be constructed at the southern end of the trail at Crane Avenue, and two existing trail parking lots on either side of the Berkshire Mall Road will be reconstructed.

The new trail segment will add to the current 11.2-mile Ashuwillticook Rail Trail — extending from the Lanesborough mall's southern entrance through Cheshire to downtown Adams.

During the April 12 hearing, project plans will be on display from 30 minutes before the hearing begins, with an engineer in attendance to answer questions regarding this project.

Project inquiries may be emailed to dot.feedback.highway@state.ma.us.

Also this week, MassDOT officials announced that construction has begun on a $2.2 million project to extend the trail from its current northern end at Hoosac Street in Adams to Lime Street in the town.

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, the first segment of which opened in 2001, follows a former railroad corridor that was converted into a paved, 10-foot wide recreation path.

The rail line, which dates back to the mid-19th century, was sold by New York Central to the Boston & Maine railroad in 1981. Boston & Maine ran the line until abandoning rail service on the route in 1990.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.