Shorter route sought: North Adams seeks partial bike path for now

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NORTH ADAMS — Although a plan to run a bike path through the west end all the way to Mass MoCA was scuttled by a neighborhood's concerns, officials are working to build a section of bike path that ends at the Harriman and West Airport while seeking another route around the neighborhood.

"We're excited about this because it lets us start the bike path into the city," said North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright. "And that gives us the opportunity to enhance the economic opportunities it brings to the airport, which we've been trying to draw attention to anyway."

Meanwhile, officials will seek to detour the path at a later time around the reluctant subdivision in an effort to get the path to the grounds of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

"It gives us a new starting point for another project to Mass MoCA," Alcombright said.

At the same time, Williamstown is looking forward to seeing an engineering plan for the $4.3 million bike path from Syndicate Road along the south side of the Hoosic River, all the way through town to the Spruces. There it would cross Route 2 and meet up with the North Adams section of bike path.

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said work is in the very preliminary stages, and that if everything goes perfectly, construction wouldn't start for at least two years.

He said the route of the path travels south from Gavin Road between two small neighborhoods until it reaches the west end of the airport's taxiway. Then it would travel east along the run way to Airport Road.

Residents of Chentaille Terrace, behind which the path would run, have been contacted and asked for their thoughts on that route.

Alcombright said there would be a number of public meetings to discuss the plan and the route.

"Like with any other project, we need to be extremely sensitive to the needs and concerns of the neighbors," he said.

If completed the North Adams section of bike path would end at Airport Road, giving hikers and bikers the opportunity to watch planes take off and land at the airport, easy access to the Stop & Shop supermarket, and the under-construction hospitality project at the site of the former Redwood Motel.

Funding for this relatively short stretch of bike path would come from the state in conjunction with the Williamstown path's funding.

But more importantly, it gets the path into North Adams, something the mayor considers to be an important first step.

While work on the Williamstown and west end North Adams bike paths continue, the effort to bring the bike path into the south end of North Adams from Adams is also ongoing.

The ultimate goal is to unite the two ends of the bike path at Mass MoCA. Once that happens, the bike path would be continuous from Simonds Road in Williamstown, all the way through North Adams, connects with the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Adams, travels through Cheshire, and into Lanesborough, where the trail begins adjacent to the Berkshire Mall.

According to Judi Riley, a spokesperson for MassDOT, the bike path would connect Simonds Road (Route 7) near Syndicate Road to Main Street (Route 2) near Galvin Road. The path will roughly follow the south bank of the Hoosic River.

The path would consist of a 10-foot wide paved surface with 2-foot graded shoulders on each side. The terrain winds through open fields, a 100-year floodplain, some wetlands, and outlying suburban areas. Construction is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2018.

According to Joshua Moran, a member of the North Adams City Council, Mass DOT seems excited about the idea.

"It seems somewhat promising to the DOT because it will make the Williamstown path substantially longer," he said. "And for North Adams, it's a really good first step."

Reach staff writer Scott Stafford at 413-496-6301.


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