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IN THE NEWS- Patrick Administration Announces Transportation Award for Downtown Pittsfield: Complements three MassHighway projects in the works
April 10, 2009

Pittsfield, MA -- As part of Governor Deval Patrick’s Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state’s economic future, Transportation Secretary James A. Aloisi Jr. and Mayor James M. Ruberto today announced that the Executive Office of Transportation has awarded a Public Works Economic Development (PWED) Grant to the City of Pittsfield for a road reconstruction project that will improve traffic flow and pedestrian accessibility in the downtown area.

 

The $1.2 million PWED project is for roadway and sidewalk improvements in Pittsfield, on North Street from Park Square to the Columbus Avenue/Eagle Street intersection -- at the start of the downtown business district.  The city’s new Intermodal Transportation center is located adjacent to the project area at the intersection of North Street and Columbus Ave.  The PWED grant is for Phase II of a multiphase streetscape improvement plan.

 

In addition to the PWED announcement, The Executive Office of Transportation announced the start of three MassHighway projects that complement the city’s efforts.  The projects involve the reconstruction of Park Square, a streetscape project on South Street and a road reconstruction project on South and West Housatonic streets.

 

“These job creating projects will help revitalize downtown Pittsfield and make important investments in infrastructure to improve safety and accessibility,” said Secretary Aloisi. “This is a perfect example of the Patrick Administration’s commitment to regional equity and our goal of using transportation funds to support economic growth and vibrant communities.”

 

“With the help of the Patrick administration we are able to begin the final aspect in the downtown revitalization effort that the City of Pittsfield has been waiting for,” said Mayor Ruberto.  “The streetscape project will make the downtown friendlier for pedestrians and vehicles.”

 

Work under the PWED grant includes realigning the roadway travel lanes (narrowing the street), resetting existing curbs, resurfacing the roadway and improving the sidewalk area.  Streetscape improvements will also include new sidewalk surfacing, new planting areas, street lighting, benches and trash receptacles.

 

The three projects MassHighway projects are as follows:

 

Park Square improvements - $1.9 million 

The project will improve traffic and safety at the three intersections surrounding Park Square. The intersections experience high levels of peak period congestion and delay, a high number of traffic accidents, and long rush-hour traffic backups. The Park Square area is included in the city's streetscape project.

 

South Street streetscape - $1.4 million 

This project has two locations: a 1400-foot portion of South Street from Housatonic Street north to the intersection of West and East Streets and a 470-foot portion of Union Street from Center Street east to North Street. The project involves an upgrade in pavement markings, signage, sidewalks and crosswalks.

 

South Street/West Housatonic Street - $1.1 million  

A new traffic signal system will be installed. The project involves reconstruction of sidewalks and wheelchair ramps and an upgrade of signs and pavement markings. The northbound and southbound approaches of South Street and westbound approach of East Housatonic Street will be widened. The entire project length is 820 feet on South Street and 490 feet on Housatonic Street.

 

"Drivers traveling through through Pittsfield and the Berkshires will have a smother and safer trip,” said MassHighway Commissioner Luisa Paiewonsky. "This project demonstrates our commitment to improved infrastructure and top-notch design.”

 

“It is important to have state attention and support for these critical projects in Pittsfield,” said Senator Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield).  “These projects will improve traffic circulation and commuter safety from West Housatonic Street straight through the heart of Pittsfield’s downtown.”

 

“This is another step towards a complete revitalization of our downtown.  These projects will combine to give the City of Pittsfield the entryway to the downtown that the city needs,” said Representative Christopher Speranzo (D-Pittsfield). 

 

“This is very exciting news for the Capital City of the Berkshires,” said Representative William Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox).  “They have made the turn from an industrial city to becoming a shining example of how to transform itself for the new economy of the Berkshires, travel and tourism.  I congratulate the leadership of the city during difficult fiscal times, to make necessary investments in their future.”

 

These infrastructure investments are a critical component of Governor Patrick’s Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:

 

·         Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;

·         Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and

·         Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.

 

The Public Works Economic Development (PWED) Program was created by the Legislature to assist municipalities in funding transportation infrastructure for the purpose of stimulating economic development. 

 

The PWED program is part of the Commonwealth Capital program for Fiscal Year 2009, and is coordinated with other discretionary state spending programs that affect development patterns in Massachusetts. This coordination allows the state to leverage investments, economic development, housing growth and environmental sustainability.

 

The PWED program was established in the 1980s to fund transportation and

infrastructure projects that spur economic development in cities and towns. This program has been a great success in stimulating job growth and commercial development for our communities.

 

>> For more information about the Massachusetts Recovery Plan, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery.

 

>> To learn more about the Governor’s Transportation and Economic Security Plan visit: www.mass.gov/youmovemassachusetts.

 

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