As Richmond Mountain Road construction projects ramp up, motorists may want to seek another shortcut instead
LENOX — As the heavy-traffic tourism season eases until leaf-peepers show up next month, local construction crews will be out in force this month for necessary projects that will inconvenience some motorists.
Richmond Mountain Road, a favorite shortcut linking Lenox, West Stockbridge and Richmond, will be off-limits to vehicles on weekdays, beginning Tuesday, for more than three months. The closing is required by a $3.8 million replacement of a 120-year-old water main that serves Lenox water users, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and several other customers along the twisting, hilly roadway.
Starting at Route 183 (West Street) across from Tanglewood, the closure affects a two-mile stretch of the road criss-crosses the Stockbridge and Lenox town lines before it reaches Olivia's Overlook and continues into Richmond.
The project will barricade Richmond Mountain Road from Route 183 to Olivia's Overlook from 7 a.m. on Mondays (though not Labor Day) until noon on Fridays, when traffic will be permitted for the weekend. Weekday access to the scenic turnoff overlooking Stockbridge Bowl will be possible only via Lenox Mountain Road from Richmond and Lenox Branch Road from West Stockbridge.
The shutdown is expected to continue until Dec. 23, according to the Lenox Department of Public Works. The final phase, including the milling and repaving of Richmond Mountain Road, will be scheduled over a two-week period next spring.
Traffic from Lenox will be diverted down Route 183 to the intersection of Route 102 in Stockbridge, producing a 10-minute delay in travel time to West Stockbridge as determined by MapQuest, according to DPW Superintendent Sean VanDeusen.
Although Lenox Branch Road, which begins in downtown West Stockbridge, is not part of the project, it will not accommodate through traffic to Lenox while work goes on.
The water main, one of two serving customers on town water in Lenox, has exceeded its normal life span, VanDeusen said. There have been frequent breaks, he pointed out, "and the real threat is that if we had a break in the middle of winter and the flow stopped, it would freeze and then the whole line would shatter because it's not below the frost line. We'll lose the whole system if we don't deal with it."
The water main installation, costing $2.5 million, went to the low bidder, Baltasar Contractors of Ludlow. The repaving of Richmond Mountain Road will be handled by L B Corp. of Lee. Foresight Land Services of Pittsfield engineered the entire project, which is financed by a 20-year bond approved by Lenox town meeting voters last May.
Also beginning Tuesday, the Lenox DPW will repave Yokun, Sunset, Brunell and Kneeland avenues just west of the downtown business district. The schedule is weather-dependent and work is expected to continue into October. Traffic delays should be expected, the DPW stated.
Finally, the state's $3 million resurfacing of Routes 7 and 20 (Pittsfield Road) from the MassDOT regional office in Lenox to Guardian Life Insurance in Pittsfield is supposed to be finished in about two weeks.
The project began in late May and has caused frequent traffic snarls, though the final phase has involved night paving Sunday through Thursday in recent weeks.
Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.
Project timeline ...
Here's a schedule of the Richmond Mountain Road water main and repaving project:
Sept. 6-Dec. 23: Richmond Mountain Road in Lenox will be closed to all traffic from Route 183 to Olivia's Overlook from 7 a.m. Mondays (not including Labor Day) until noon on Fridays, when the road will reopen for weekend use. Access to Olivia's Overlook will only be available via Lenox Mountain Road from Richmond and Lenox Branch Road from West Stockbridge.
Spring 2017: During a two-week period determined by weather, repaving of Richmond Mountain Road will require it to be closed to traffic during the day.
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