Officials unveil extensive plans for Walker Street construction in Lenox
Six years in the making, it will be the largest, most expensive local road project in the town's history, officials said Monday.
By the time the work is completed, likely in fall 2020, after an estimated two construction seasons of work, a stretch of Walker Street will be repaved and widened to include accommodations for pedestrians and bikes, said Public Works Superintendent William Gop. A notable improvement will be a first-ever sidewalk along the northern side of the 2-mile corridor.
Included will be a sidewalk from Kimball Farms Life Care to the bypass, Gop said.
Walker Street is the prime connector from the Routes 7/20 bypass to the village of Lenox Dale and also serves as a back-road shortcut to Lee, especially when there is heavy traffic on Route 20.
The first part of the state project, although separately authorized by annual town meeting voters in May 2017, will be a major water and sewer upgrade in Lenox Dale. Although the voters approved $1.2 million, "we have no intention of spending that much," said Lee-Lenox Chief Administrative Officer Christopher Ketchen.
In addition, water and sewer lines along the affected Walker Street corridor will be improved, he said. In all, the infrastructure work comes to $951,000 of the project's total cost. Short-term financing will be used for that work, he said.
During the roadway and sidewalk construction, through traffic will be maintained, with some temporary one-lane closures. A minor detour is likely in Lenox Dale during the infrastructure work there, Gop said.
The state is expected to issue requests for proposals in a few weeks and award a bid to a contractor this fall.
The Select Board signed off on paperwork for minor temporary and permanent easements, effective immediately, for sloping, regrading, drainage and utility pole replacements affecting 47 property owners along Walker Street.
Thirteen property owners donated their slivers of land, said Land Use Director and Town Planner Gwen Miller. The remaining residents were awarded "damages" ranging from $1 to a maximum of $2,290 in one instance, as determined by an outside appraisal.
Other than a few concerns, feedback from residents has been generally positive, Gop told the selectmen.
Property owners already have received a mailing about the project, and another one will be on the way shortly. Several public hearings and meetings were held during the project's design and planning phase.
"Easement is a scary term, but this one is not a big deal," said Selectman Edward Lane, the town's liaison with the DPW.
"It's been hard to explain to some folks why we need to do a reconstruction because the road looks good now," Ketchen said. "But what's underneath is just falling apart."
Clarence Fanto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.
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