LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The westerly access to the Berkshire Mall via Route 7 opened this morning, Wednesday, nearly one month ahead of schedule. ??
The $6.3 million project was funded by the federal stimulus American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.??
The early completion triggers a bonus for the contractor worth nearly $230,000. The construction contract allowed for an early completion bonus of $9,550 per calendar day up to 24 days. Work on the project began in March.??
"I want to thank the governor and lieutenant governor for encouraging MassDOT to include contractor incentives in our projects. Time matters in our business," said state Department of Transportation Secretary Jeff Mullan. "Stimulus projects help the administration achieve its goal of creating short- and long-term jobs, sustained regional economic growth and stronger communities and transit across Massachusetts."??
The mall road had been the center of a tug-of-war between Lanesborough, Pittsfield and nearby Petricca Industries. An agreement hammered out earlier this year — and the influx of federal monies — finally got the long delayed project going. ?
?The road, administered by the Baker Hill Road District on the completion of the mall 20 years ago, had grown increasingly dangerous to the point that some ambulance services refused to use it. What had been conceived as an access point to the mall from Route 7 has become a well-traveled connector between 7 and Route 8. The two main north/south highways are separated by the Berkshire Hills and there are few crossover points between North County and Pittsfield.??
The next phase of the Route 7/8 Connector Road (formerly Berkshire Mall Drive) project involves the repaving of Partridge Road and removal of a temporary access road. The final phase to begin next year involves completion of a new easterly access driveway to Route 8. The contractor, E.T. & L. Corp., may receive an additional incentive bonus for early completion of these two phases. The current completion date is Aug. 19, 2011.??