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Our Opinion: Welcome work on Tamarack Road will hopefully pave the way for some critical lessons, too

Cars navigate Tamarack Road in Pittsfield (copy)

Vehicles traveling on Tamarack Road in Pittsfield often veer into the opposite lane to avoid hitting potholes and other road surface hazards. Work to resurface and grade the road begins this week.

Earlier this year, we highlighted Pittsfield’s persistent pothole problems and the bigger issues that might disappear into some of those chasms.

Credit where it’s due: One of the roadways that desperately needs some attention is getting some. The Tamarack Road repair work set to begin this week is welcome news for the many motorists that make up its estimated daily average of 2,000 to 3,000 vehicle trips.

It’s better late than never, but it’s also long overdue as this access to the Pittsfield Municipal Airport and Bousquet Ski Area has gone without significant repair for at least two decades. Over that time, this connector has only become more crucial, especially given Mill Town Capital’s substantial investment in redevelopment efforts at Bousquet, including the ski area as well as Bousquet Sport (previously known as Berkshire West Athletic Club) and the former Lakeside Christian Camp. From axle-cracking craters to parts so eroded they resemble a gravel backroad more than a vital artery, Tamarack Road’s sad state belies the importance of these critical investments in Pittsfield’s economic development.

It also underscores the additional difficulties that come with the city putting off this maintenance until the breaking point, instead of being responsive to local travelers who have flagged this and other treacherous stretches’ woes for some time. Tamarack’s condition is such that the city cannot wait any longer, though construction vehicles passing over the reconstructed road to get to nearby development projects is less than ideal, according to Pittsfield Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales: “We’re going to resurface and repair it and there’s still going to be some construction vehicles going over that road. I’m not happy about that but it’s what we need to do.”

Of course, road reconstruction and paving projects are pricey, disruptive endeavors that are easier suggested than undertaken. Still, from Barker Road to East and Newell streets, plenty of Pittsfield’s important public ways require serious work (not just repeated applications of Band-Aid patchwork). Letting the connective tissue of the city’s infrastructure fester in this cracked state only undermines revitalization goals, public safety and residential quality of life.

We welcome this long overdue TLC for Tamarack Road. As the paving season heats up, we also hope it comes with a lesson that Pittsfield leaders should already know but must no longer ignore: Putting off this essential task of municipal government in the very areas where the city seeks revitalization comes with its own price.

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