Great Barrington Roundabout

A state project to build a roundabout south of downtown Great Barrington could start as early as today, and will take two years to complete.

GREAT BARRINGTON — A state project to build a roundabout south of downtown will take two years to complete.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation workers could begin preliminary construction at the intersection of routes 7 and 23 as early as Wednesday, Town Manager Mark Pruhenski told the Select Board Monday. 

DOT engineers presented the $2 million project to town officials and residents in 2018, and were met with a less than enthusiastic response. Work was initially set to begin in the summer of 2020.

The plans sprung from an audit that found the intersection lacking for the safety of both drivers and pedestrians, and the work will include new lights, crosswalks and sidewalks. DOT officials had said that the roundabout would "calm" and organize traffic, and improve its flow. Engineers also said it would make it easier for police cruisers to enter and exit the station on the east side of Route 7.

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Workers will bury utilities underground and add plantings, Pruhenski said. 

Area business owners have worried about disruptions the construction would bring. At Monday's Zoom meeting, Richard Stanley asked the board if it could "put pressure on our elected officials to put this on hold."

"It's a project in search of a problem," Stanley said. 

Board Chairman Stephen Bannon said that the roundabout issue wasn't on the evening's agenda, and that "not everyone is against it." 

Another project that sowed anxiety is DOT's repair of the Brown Bridge at the north entrance to town on Route 7. It is now painted red. And the work will be completed in June.

"This is really good news," Pruhenski said.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or 413-329-6871. On Twitter @BE_hbellow.