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Ashuwillticook Rail Trail Extending Farther Into Pittsfield in 2024
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
06:18PM / Saturday, January 28, 2023
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The bike path will go under the Dalton Avenue overpass and end at a new parking lot on Merrill Road.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail will extend to Merrill Road in 2024, bringing bike and pedestrian recreation farther into the city. 

Phase 2 of the extension along the abandoned Housatonic railroad line will be bid in the spring and completed next year. With a state and federally funded price tag of about $1.4 million, it includes a 10-foot paved multi-use path that runs from Crane Avenue to Merrill Road.  

The trail will eventually travel alongside the road to East Street and larger plans bring it through the whole county. 

On Tuesday, the City Council approved five temporary property easements to assist in the construction of the extension. 

"The extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail into Pittsfield is a critically important community supported recreational enhancement project," Mayor Linda Tyer wrote. 

"Nearly 10 years in the planning stages, continued extension of the trail into Pittsfield has been noted as a community goal in both the Master Plan and the Open Space and Recreation Plan. Full funding is currently allocated in this fiscal year through the state Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) and any delay in the acquisition of the temporary easements could present a result that the funding could be re-allocated." 

The 0.4 mile extension will go underneath the Dalton Avenue bridge, travel behind the Shops at Unkamet Brook (which include Dick's Sporting Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Panera Bread,) and come out next to O'Connell Oil Associates. 

It will be paid for by the Federal Aid Program with 80 percent of the construction cost funded by the Federal Highway Administration and 20 percent of the construction cost funded by the state.

Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath reported that the project will be advertised for bid in early May and construction could begin in the summer. 

To accommodate the extension, a 5,900 square foot paved parking area with 11 spaces will be built adjacent to the trail at Merrill Road.

Proposed project activities also include a rest area with bench seating, bicycle racks, and trail information; a Pedestrian Activated Hybrid Beacon (HAWK) signal at Merrill Road; repair of an existing stormwater drainage culvert underneath the existing rail embankment at one location; and new grass-lined infiltration swales parallel to the trail totaling a cumulative 1,150 linear feet. 

The rail trail runs more than14 miles from Lime Street in Adams to Crane Avenue in Pittsfield. Phase 1 of its extension into the city was completed last year, connecting the leg that ended at the Connector Road to Crane Avenue. 

The first section opened in 2001 from Route 8 in Cheshire to Hoosac Street in Adams and was extended to Lime Street in 2016. The trail will eventually link up to a recently completed 2.4-mile path in Williamstown. 

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