Popular shortcut between Lenox, West Stockbridge going out of service


LENOX >> The well-traveled Richmond Mountain Road linking Lenox to West Stockbridge and Richmond will be barricaded on weekdays during a three-month, $3.8 million project to replace an adjacent 120-year-old water main.

The twisting, hilly road connects Route 183 (West Street) in Lenox to Swamp Road in Richmond, with an offshoot called Lenox Branch Road into West Stockbridge. Lenox Branch is not part of the project, but will not accommodate through traffic to Lenox or Richmond while work goes on.

The first phase of the work on the two-mile long water line begins during the week of Aug. 29, weather permitting, causing the weekday shutdown of part of Lenox Mountain Road, the name of the two-lane country byway once it crosses into Richmond, said Lenox Public Works Superintendent Sean VanDeusen.

A one-quarter mile stretch will be closed between Cheever Road and Lenox Branch Road in Richmond, except to local residents, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. during that week.

Starting on Sept. 6, phase two begins with Richmond Mountain Road shut down to all traffic from Route 183 in Lenox to Olivia's Overlook at the top of the ridgeline from 7 a.m. on Mondays until noon on Fridays, when the road will reopen for the weekend. Access to Olivia's Overlook will only be possible via Lenox Mountain Road from Richmond and West Stockbridge.

That portion of the project, with its major impact on travel, is expected to end on by Dec. 23. For the final weeks, VanDeusen acknowledged that weather is a concern, but said he's optimistic that the work can be completed before winter weather sets in.

Traffic from Lenox to West Stockbridge will be diverted down Route 183 to the intersection of Route 102 in Stockbridge, producing a 10-minute delay in travel time as determined by MapQuest, said VanDeusen.

Next spring, the final phase involves the reclaiming, milling and repaving of Richmond Mountain Road. For up to two weeks, in April or May, the road will be closed to traffic during the day. The start date depends on weather.

The project will be widely publicized over the next few weeks, said Selectman Edward Lane, the town's liaison to the DPW, and extensive signage will be prepared.

"Our biggest concern is the disruption of people having to turn around, not knowing what's happening," he said. "We apologize for it but it's what you have to do to get this type of a job done. We're planning for the worst as far as time goes, but we're hoping for the best."

Lane acknowledged that "the first week will be a nightmare but you'd hope people will catch on."

The water main, one of two serving customers on town water in Lenox, has exceeded its normal life span, VanDeusen noted. There have been frequent breaks, he said, "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."

Normally, Lane explained, a water line is installed four feet below the frost line, but because modern equipment wasn't available in the late 1890s, the Richmond Mountain Road pipe runs atop the ground in some areas.

The water main installation, costing $2.5 million, went to the low bidder, Baltasar Contractors of Ludlow, which handled similar, even more complex projects on Main Street and Yokun Avenue last year, said VanDeusen.

The repaving of Richmond Mountain Road will be handled by L B Corporation of Lee. Foresight Land Services of Pittsfield engineered the entire project.

In May, annual town meeting voters approved a 20-year bond to finance the work.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.

Project timeline ...

Here's a summary of the traffic impact caused by the Richmond Mountain Road water main project in Lenox. Schedules are subject to change, depending on weather.

Week of Aug. 29: A quarter-mile stretch of Lenox Mountain Road will be closed in Richmond from Cheever Road to Lenox Branch Road from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for local residents.

Sept. 6-Dec. 23: Richmond Mountain Road in Lenox will be closed to all traffic from Route 183 to Olivia's Overloom from 7 a.m. on Mondays 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 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.

Source: Lenox Department of Public Works.


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