Long-awaited reconstruction of Housatonic Street underway in Dalton
Photo Gallery | Construction on Housatonic Street in Dalton
DALTON — After nearly 20 years of discussion, planning, and delays, work has started on the nearly $11.2 million overhaul of Housatonic Street.
The reconstruction of the busy 2-mile stretch of road between Main Street and Hinsdale Road, which is expected to take two years to complete, is the latest the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is currently overseeing in Berkshire County. MassDOT's local to-do list also includes the new Woodland Avenue bridge in Pittsfield and the Main Street reconstruction project for Great Barrington.
The Housatonic Street project includes full-depth excavation of the road, pavement reclamation, new pavement, curbing and rebuilt sidewalks.
The Ludlow company hired for the job, Baltazar Contractors, also will add a sidewalk and bicycle path along the road to improve non-vehicular access to Nessacus Middle School located across from the intersection of Housatonic Street and Hinsdale Road (Route 8), according to MassDOT.
"The need for more sidewalks have always been an issue here as kids are always walking in the road," said Dalton Selectman John Boyle, a longtime resident of Housatonic Street.
Among the other upgrades include several retaining walls, enhanced traffic signage, landscaping and pavement markings.
Once finished by the contractual deadline of April 13, 2018, Boyle expects the new-look Housatonic Street will be an economic catalyst for the town. The road serves a mix of residences and businesses such as L.P. Adams Co., Sinicon Plastics and Berkshire Bridge & Iron Co.
"I'm looking forward to the completion of the road as it will help expand our business in the area," he said.
Reconstruction of Housatonic Street was conceived in the late 1990s when town meeting voters approved $200,000 for engineering work to design plans for both South and Housatonic streets.
South Street was done first, completed about the time Dalton sought funding for Housatonic through the state's Transportation Improvement Program. Placed on the TIP list in 2011, the project was delayed due to the uncertainty of the project's estimated final cost. Road and bridge projects on the TIP list are eligible for 80 percent federal funding and 20 percent in state highway money.
Before Dalton can cut the ribbon on its fresh, new street, property owners along Housatonic will have to endure two years of heavy truck traffic, a rough-riding road under construction and the noise from construction. Due to extensive excavation in the area of 207 and 213 Housatonic St., the contractor is required to minimize the impact on buildings at those addresses and to ensure vibrations from the equipment doesn't exceed established limits.
Boyle believes the contractor will accommodate all affected by the construction work.
"Baltazar is being extremely receptive to people accessing their driveways and the businesses," he said.
As the Dalton infrastructure improvement begins, two other MassDOT public works projects are nearing the finish line.
Northern Construction, the contractor for the Woodlawn Avenue bridge, began paving last week and once completed, will add curbing and sidewalks. The new span is slated to open to traffic in July, according to state transportation officials.
The $4 million project that began last April will help to connect critical roadways needed for the soon-to-be-constructed Berkshire Innovation Center.
The crossing is one of 31 CSX Railroad bridges that MassDOT is fixing so that the rail company can run double-stack rail cars from its base in Selkirk, N.Y., to Worcester.
In Great Barrington, the half-mile stretch of Main Street under reconstruction since 2014 should be finished in June, MassDOT officials said.
The last significant streetscape improvement begins next week as 81 trees will be planted along the downtown thoroughfare, replacing the pear trees that were cut down to make way for the $6.2 million project.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.
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