LEE -- As reconstruction begins soon on a deteriorating Tyringham Road, dozens of Lee and Tyringham residents want a major upgrade of another thoroughfare that links their two communities.
Nearly 160 people living in the Goose Pond area have petitioned the Lee Board of Selectmen to deal with the "deplorable condition" of Forest Street, a road they say the town has neglected for 20 years.
The petitioners claim poor drainage, inadequate guardrails and crumbling asphalt along the two mile stretch between Route 20 and the Tyringham town line has created a safety hazard for local motorists, especially school bus drivers and their young passengers.
"The kids slam their heads into [ bus roof] because of the bumps," said Tyringham Board of Selectmen Chairman Chris Johnson.
Lee municipal officials agree Forest Street should be a high priority on the town's road repair list.
"Forest Street has been a problem for years -- it's in really bad shape," concedes Lee Selectmen Chairman Gordon Bailey.
The town's Board of Public Works this week discussed the need to fix Forest Street, but didn't make a recommendation as such a project depends on the availability of local and state highway funds, according to town officials.
Lee Public Works Superintendent Christopher Pompi estimates a major upgrade would cost up to $1 million, with the work likely completed over two separate construction seasons.
"I would suggest doing the upper mile first as it's the worst part of the road and do the lower half second," he said.
Forest Street also is well-traveled in the summer by second-homeowners and those accessing the Goose Pond public boat ramp.
"The road leaves visitors to the pond with a negative view of the Town of Lee's road maintenance," the petitioners stated.
Meanwhile, the $5.5 million Tyringham Road project -- 16 years in the making --gets underway this spring. Baltazar Contractors Inc. of Ludlow will spend the next two construction seasons improving the drainage, widening and repaving the 2-mile thoroughfare between Route 102 and the Tyringham town line.
Some sections of the road have been crumbling into the Housatonic River for years and the pavement and guardrail sections are in poor condition.
The federally and state-funded project also includes reconfiguring the "T" intersection with Meadow Street to improve the traffic flow at the crossroad.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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