Fuss & O’Neill designed improvements for Park Square that meet the challenges of improved traffic safety and traffic operations while preserving the pedestrian friendly historic downtown context. The design process included coordination with: The City of Pittsfield, MassDOT, Historic Commission, and Landscape Architect (BSC).
Article Originally Published in The Berkshire Eagle
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff | April 18, 2010
PITTSFIELD, MA - As road construction crews move toward finishing the Park Square project by early June, it has already improved traffic safety, said city police.
Workers are completing several items including the installation of new street lights and permanently extending the East Street median to the park. A temporarily median was installed three months ago, ending decades of a rotary traffic pattern in the downtown area.
In addition, the intersection's road surface is being prepared for the top coat of asphalt, according state transportation officials.
"The final paving is planned for the middle of May and we are considering doing this work at night when traffic is at a minimum," said Adam Hurtubise, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. MassDOT is overseeing the $2.6 million project, which Hurtubise noted should end by June 8.
"It's nice to finally get to the point of the intersection being paved," added Pittsfield Public Works and Utilities Commissioner, Bruce I. Collingwood.
Nevertheless, the heart of the Park Square project was completed Jan. 7, when the original two-way traffic pattern that once connected North and South streets was reinstated, replacing the rotary that directed drivers from South Street to North Street for more than 50 years.
Since the circular traffic pattern was eliminated, northbound vehicles on South Street have continued unimpeded to North Street. In addition, South Street motorists turn onto West Street by the Crowne Plaza Hotel and West Street drivers headed toward Park Square make a left-hand turn onto North Street.
The remainder of the traffic pattern that links North, South, East and West streets at Park Square remains the same.
Removing the rotary was primarily done to improve traffic flow and safety, which is already happening, according to Pittsfield Police Capt. John Mullin. He cited how the number accidents during the Jan. 1 to April 15 time period has dropped from 22 in 2009 to 11 this year.
"The redesign of the area seems to be working," noted Mullin.
Furthermore, crosswalks near Park Square are clearly delineated with red brick-like material and better signage to improve pedestrian safety at the intersection.
The Park Square project is one of four totaling $6.4 million that the Highway Division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has overseen the past year to improve the traffic flow and aesthetics of the area. The intersections of West and Center streets and West Housatonic and South streets, were rebuilt last year and new traffic signals installed.
In addition, South Street from West Housatonic to Park Square was upgraded, including new sidewalks, period street lighting and new pavement -- the final coat being applied by June.
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