|MassDOT Sets Public Hearing on PEDA Bridge|
|By Joe Durwin, Pittsfield Correspondent|
10:41AM / Wednesday, November 14, 2012
|The proposed span will have to be 15 inches higher than the old bridge to accommodate CSX's double-decker train cars.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing later this month to discuss a proposed replacement scheme for the city's long unused and recently demolished bridge on Woodlawn Avenue.
MassDOT is planning a single span bridge to connect the East and Tyler street areas. The long unused Woodlawn bridge was demolished this year.
"The purpose of this hearing is to provide the public with the opportunity to become fully acquainted with the proposed bridge replacement project on Woodlawn Ave over CSX RR," the department announced in a notice. "All views and comments made at the hearing will be reviewed and considered to the maximum extent possible."
According to MassDOT, the new design calls for replacing the previous three-span bridge structure with a new single span made of welded plate girders, and new abutments to be built in front of the current abutments. The proposed structure would include two traffic lanes and 5.5-foot sidewalks, in addition to a 4-foot shoulder for accommodating bicycle lanes.
The plan aims to ultimately rebuild the bridge so that the center section will be higher than the previous bridge, allowing the approximately 15 extra inches of clearance needed for CSX Railroad to run the dual-level cars beneath it.
The bridge, which once connected East Street to the Tyler Street area across property that was once owned by General Electric, is seen as vital to the success of the William Stanley Business Park that now resides there.
The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority tasked with running the park took possession of the parcel last November. The bridge was previously slated to be demolished in January of this year, but uncertainties about a timetable for its replacement delayed removal until August, making it unlikely that a new bridge will be completed in time to use it to reroute traffic during a planned closure of Silver Lake Boulevard this coming summer.
As part of the transportation bill passed in the state Legislature on July 25, state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing secured $2 million for the reconstruction of the bridge, contingent on its completion by the end of next year.
"I'm hoping we're going to get dirt moving by early January," said Corydon Thurston, PEDA's executive director.
"We're happy for the public input," Thurston told PEDA's board of directors Wednesday morning. "I'm encouraging everyone who has an opportunity to make a statement about the bridge, and the design, to come on down, and comment if necessary."
A secure right-of-way must be provided for this project, and temporary or permanent easements may be required, according to the transportation department, thus necessitating a public hearing on the project.
The public hearing is set for Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m., in Room 203 at City Hall. Plans will be on display for 30 minutes before the hearing begins, and an engineer will be present to answer any questions.