A pair of South County towns have received $1 million state grants toward road improvements designed to stimulate their local economies.
West Stockbridge and Mount Washington were among 33 Massachusetts communities recently awarded funds from the MassWorks Infrastructure Project program managed by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.
West Stockbridge will spend the money on a long-awaited downtown streetscape project; Mount Washington plans to upgrade Falls Road. The road leads to the state's highest single-drop waterfall at Bash Bish Falls State Park, one of the most popular natural tourist attractions in the county.
"Thank goodness for the holidays as this will provide a shot in the arm to the communities' local economy," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox.
In announcing the grants, Pignatelli was thrilled the state recognized the need to improve major rural thoroughfares.
"Main roads in small towns are just as important as the highways," he noted.
The West Stockbridge streetscape project entails resurfacing Main, Center and Depot streets and making the downtown more pedestrian-friendly, according to town officials.
"Nothing dramatic will change; essentially we'll have uniform sidewalks, curbing and enhanced crosswalks for pedestrian safety," said Town Administrator Mark Webber.
Webber expects the project to be bid early next year and work to be completed during the 2014 construction season.
Mount Washington officials were unavailable Monday to comment on the status of the planned repairs to Falls Road.
Meanwhile, the Hampden County town of Tolland, within Pignatelli's Fourth Berkshire District, received a MassWorks grant totaling $990,000. The state lawmaker says that funding will cover the repaving and drainage repairs to a deteriorating Route 57 from Burt Hill Road westward to the Sandisfield town line.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233