Planned Ashuwillticook Rail Trail extension into Pittsfield gains momentum

By Jim Therrien

PITTSFIELD – Design of the next segment of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, from the Berkshire Mall entrance to Crane Avenue, has reached a significant milestone, city officials said this week.

The design is now at the 25 percent stage, said Park and Open Space Manager James McGrath, and that will trigger a review by the state Department of Transportation and a public hearing and public comment period.

Once that process is completed, the push toward preparing a final design could proceed rapidly during 2015, he said, and it is possible construction of the 1.55-mile trail segment — the first to reach into Pittsfield — could get under way during 2016.

Fuss & O’Neill is preparing the project design, for which the city is responsible, while the balance of the $2.1 million project will be covered by state and federal funding.

The trail extension will add to the current 11.2-mile Ashuwillticook trail — reaching from the mall’s southern entrance in Lanesborough through Cheshire to downtown Adams.

The planned segment is one of three envisioned within the city to move toward an overarching goal of creating a trail from the Connecticut line through South County into Pittsfield, and north through Adams, North Adams and Williamstown and into Vermont.

“This is a very exciting project,” McGrath said. The project has been identified in the city’s open space plan as a top priority, he said, adding, “I’m please we’re finally making some real progress on this.”

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