DALTON — Fearful of losing their place in line, Dalton officials this week voiced “strong support” for the reconstruction of Dalton Division Road, hopeful that they can keep their big, and overdue, road project from slipping on a regional list.
The road, which forms part of the border between Dalton and Pittsfield, now is ranked in the top group of area projects on an all-important scorecard maintained by the Berkshire Metropolitan Planning Organization.
But, at a recent meeting of the group, a staff member with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission questioned why the project’s early design — a threshold of 25 percent — is not ready.
That prompted John Boyle, the town of Dalton’s representative to the group, to press to keep Dalton Division Road on the schedule for construction in 2026 and 2027 — dates that already are a decade from when the town took public comment on the project.
The Dalton Select Board voted unanimously Monday night to draft a letter telling the MPO that the community will do what is needed to stay on the list.
Member Marc Strout moved to “swiftly” draft that letter, “showing our strong support of this project and move this forward. … We stand unified with the residents of Dalton that want this project.”
Boyle, who sits on the Select Board, warned colleagues that the town of Egremont pitched at the most recent MPO meeting to move up the timing of a reconstruction of Mount Washington Road, because of that road’s poor condition in South County.
“They could very well introduce a motion to the MPO to have Dalton’s funds deleted, because it’s not being utilized,” Boyle said. The MPO lists the Dalton project as costing $9,888,000, though its full cost has been pegged at $11.4 million.
Town Manager Tom Hutcheson is working to prepare a request for proposals that would enable the town to catch up on engineering work, Dalton officials say.
Joe Diver, the Dalton board’s chair, expressed concern Monday that the town had fallen behind on its early preparation for the project.
Last year, Dalton learned that the Dalton Division Road work had been pushed back by two years. Boyle said at the time that the delay stemmed from the fact that the town had not completed planning work. The delay means Dalton will continue to pay for temporary patching of the road, at a possible cost of $100,000, Boyle said last summer.
“For whatever reason, action wasn’t taken [by] a prior [Dalton] administration. And we found ourselves late last year in a position that we were informed that we had to re-compete for the dollars and have this project reprioritized against all the other projects on that list,” Diver said.
Diver said he will ask the Pittsfield City Council to consider writing a letter of support. He also is asking Dalton residents to speak up about how they view the necessity of the road project.
While the road surface is entirely in Dalton, the homes on the west side are in Pittsfield.
It was nearly six years ago, in September 2016, that Dalton held a public meeting to accept comment on the project.