LENOX -- The design phase of the long-anticipated $5 million project to rebuild a major road between the state highway "bypass" to Lenox Dale gets underway on Wednesday.

The state Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. in Town Hall to inform concerned residents about the scope of the project and to consider public comments as the design moves ahead.

The nearly two-mile reconstruction of Walker Street from Route 7 and 20 to Crystal Street, near the Lee town line, includes widening the road to create four-foot shoulders on each side to accommodate bicyclists, as well as the construction of sidewalks for the length of the project, said Jeffrey Vincent, the co-interim town manager who's in charge of capital projects.

But because state funding for road improvement projects is limited to $80 million a year, the Walker Street rebuild may not commence until 2018, Vincent pointed out, when its cost may reach $6 million.

"There's way too small an amount of money available to fund these projects," he said.

The town is responsible only for the estimated $200,000 cost of preliminary engineering. The state covers the rest of the rebuild.

Vincent compared the plan to the redesign of West Street (Route 183) from downtown to Tanglewood that concluded last week.

"These will be nearly identical types of projects, the same scope and costs," he said.

Though no significant land-taking is anticipated along Walker Street, he added, temporary construction easements would be needed to accommodate equipment.


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The northern edge of Cranwell Resort and Golf Club is on the route, which is primarily residential.

Details of the project, which will affect at least 50 properties, will be included in a legal notice to be republished in Tuesday's Eagle, and also will be available, including design plans, a half-hour before the hearing to be attended by a state highway engineer. The information also will be on the state website, www.dot.state.ma.us.

The state plans to hold a second hearing in late October on a date to be scheduled, said Vincent.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@yahoo.com
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto