LEE -- By early next year, town officials reconstruction to begin on the deteriorating Tyringham Road in Lee, a $5.5 million project that has been 16 years in the making.

The Massachusetts Department of Trans portation recently awarded the bid to Baltazar Con tractors, Inc., of Ludlow, under the state's Transportation Improvement Program. Road and bridge projects on the TIP list are eligible for 80 percent federal funding and 20 percent state highway funds.

While MassDOT officials expect actual reconstruction to begin in the spring, Lee Public Works Superintendent Christopher Pompi anticipates Baltazar will start the preparation work after the first of the year.

"They will likely be out this winter, hitting the ground running -- depending on the weather," he said.

The project is scheduled to be completed in 2015, but Pompi wouldn't be surprised if it were finished sooner, given Baltazar's reputation for completing road work ahead of schedule.

Rebuilding Tyringham Road includes repaving the nearly 2-mile thoroughfare, making the entire road 22 feet wide and improving drainage. Some sections of the road have been crumbling into the Housatonic River for years, and the pavement and guardrail sections are in poor condition.

In addition, the intersection of Tyringham Road and Meadow Street will be configured to improve traffic flow at the crossroad.

"It'll be a good "T" intersection instead of the existing "Y" intersection and the steep grade on the Meadow Street side will be smoothed out," Pompi said.