No getting around it: $2.6 million restoration project will begin in Stockbridge
STOCKBRIDGE — A long-awaited major repair project for a badly deteriorated bridge on Route 183 (Interlaken Road), just north of the intersection with Route 102 at Berkshire Botanical Garden, breaks ground Monday, requiring extensive traffic detours until May.
The $2.6 million Larrywaug Bridge restoration, first designed five years ago, is funded through two state grants totaling $1.5 million, with the rest from a town bond and a transfer from stabilization reserves.
"The project has to move forward; we have no choice but to do it," said Highway Superintendent Leonard Tisdale. He cited annual state Department of Transportation inspection reports describing severe deficiencies afflicting the bridge built in 1931 over Larrywaug Brook.
Route 183 is a key link for motorists heading from Stockbridge and points south to Tanglewood, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Berkshire Country Day School, residences in the Interlaken neighborhood and to downtown Lenox, and vice versa.
"Because of the severe deficiencies outlined in the annual bridge inspection reports, as well as the bridge's overall geometry, the structural engineer has determined that there is no safe way to maintain partial traffic during the replacement," Tisdale said.
He noted a helpful coincidence in the project's timing, since traffic volume is well below normal because Tanglewood and Kripalu are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Two detours are available for drivers heading southbound on Route 183 from Lenox: one over Hawthorne Road, which morphs into Mahkeenac Road and Prospect Hill Road heading into downtown Stockbridge. The second, before the bridge, reroutes traffic on Larrywaug Crossroad eastbound toward downtown.
At the intersection of Routes 102 and 183, message boards indicate a detour eastbound to the business district of Stockbridge.
Details and maps depicting the detours are online at townofstockbridge.com.
Tisdale pointed out that the town's agreement with contractor David Roche & Sons of Ware requires completion of the project by May.
In a related move, Police Chief Darrell Fennelly has set up a traffic safety task force to enforce speed limits throughout town, focusing on the detours caused by the Larrywaug Bridge project.
Main enforcement areas include Hawthorne Road, Hawthorne Street, Mahkeenac Road, Prospect Hill Road, Larrywaug Crossroad and North Church Street, Fennelly told The Eagle.
He cited a heavy volume of speeding complaints received by his department, noting that residents spending more time at home during the pandemic have stepped up calls to the police about violations.
"When they see something, they call police, and that's not a bad thing, but it has created a lot more activity for us, taking away from time we can spend on radar posts,"Fennelly said.
Police officers will be signing up for dedicated traffic safety details extending from 6 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m., he said.
The task force will be supported by $10,000 in community policing money normally deployed to handle heavy traffic at Tanglewood and other sites.
"If it works out well and residents like it, maybe we can maybe do something more permanent," Fennelly said.
Clarence Fanto can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.
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