Dalton to host meeting on proposed reconstruction of Dalton Division Road


DALTON — The town is pursuing a $10 million reconstruction of Dalton Division Road to improve safety and make the road more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The rebuilding of the largely residential road, which stretches about 1.5 miles and carries some 9,000 vehicles a day, would take one or two construction seasons of fall to spring, according to Dalton Town Manager Kenneth E. Walto, who has scheduled a public information session about the project on Monday.

"We want the public's input," he said. "You want to try to accommodate people, particularly people (who live) along the street, if you can."

The reconstruction, which likely would be several years away, would fix traffic problems and safety issues at the "sweeping curve" intersection of the Williams Street, Dalton Division Road and Washington Mountain Road, Walto said. It would also make the road more level and improve storm drainage.

The population and development growth on both sides of the road was a major reason to pursue the project at this time, Walto said. He said he expects the project will be approved, provided residents support it.

"(The road) needs the Cinderella treatment," Walto said, noting it was last repaved about 10 years ago. "You can only repave roads for so long. Eventually, they should be reconstructed."

He likened the project to the recent reconstruction of South Street and the project now underway on Housatonic Street.

The town is requesting funding for the project through the Transportation Improvement Program of the state Department of Transportation, he said. If the reconstruction is approved for the program by the MassDOT's Project Review Committee on Oct. 6, funding would come from state and federal sources, he said.

Voters at annual town meeting would have to approve funding for possible engineering and right-of-way work.

Projects selected by the review committee are assigned priority rankings, Walto said.

"As I understand it, there are five years' worth of projects ahead of us," he said.

The project would improve the road's deteriorating surface, and meet the needs of all potential users through improvements like constructing sidewalks, Walto said.

The 5-foot sidewalks in both directions — required under state and federal guidelines — would widen into land that residents bordering the road perceive to be theirs because they maintain it, said Pittsfield City Councilor Christopher J. Connell. He represents Ward 4, which includes most of the homes on the Pittsfield side of the road.

There is always the potential for the project to infringe on residential property, but the town aims to work within the current 66-foot right-of-way, or maximum width of town streets, in Dalton, Walto said.

Although the entire road falls within Dalton's jurisdiction, the houses on the west side of the road are part of the city of Pittsfield, Walto said.

Pittsfield city officials discussed the project with the town of Dalton. The city later provided a letter of support for the initiative, according to a statement from city Mayor Linda M. Tyer.

"In light of the changes that reconstruction could incur, the town stated its commitment to community outreach starting with Monday's public meeting to keep residents informed and also provide an outlet for feedback," Tyer said in the statement.

Walto said the town would cooperate with Pittsfield throughout the process because the reconstruction would involve both communities. If the project is approved, another public meeting will be held during the design phase by MassDOT.

MassDOT also assigns resident engineers to oversee construction of approved projects on behalf of the state and community, Walto said.

"These are typically once-in-a-lifetime projects," he said.

If you go ...

What: Public information session on proposed reconstruction of Dalton Division Road

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Nessacus Regional Middle School Auditorium, 35 Fox Road, Dalton


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