A combination of state, federal, and local funding has been collected to continue expanding biking trails in Berkshire County. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…
The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail – a former railroad corridor that runs North to South from the Berkshire town of Adams through Cheshire to Lanesborough – will we be given a paved expansion to North Adams.
The current 11.2 mile trail will extend its reach with a two mile, ten foot wide segment from Lime Street in Adams up to Hodges Cross Road in North Adams. Clete Kus, Transportation Program Manager at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, says that the $3.1 million project is being funded largely by dollars secured in a Federal earmark.
In 2011, Adams and North Adams had won the federal funding after a contest between the two communities and the City of Pittsfield. However, environmental concerns led to a needed arsenic mitigation, which some feared could have jeopardized the project. North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright gave kudos to the local officials that worked with the state to find cost effective ways to divert cleanup savings back into the project.
Mayor Alcombright also said that he would like to see the path to make more expansions in the future.
The work to include the Ashuwillticook in part of a larger vision goes in part to the Berkshire Bike Path Council – a group advocating for a set of trails that connect Southern Vermont to Northern Connecticut. Marjorie Cohan of Berkshire Bike Path told WAMC that she congratulates officials in Adams and North Adams in finding a way to make the project work, and that hopes that the work is “an inspiration to other communities”. Cohan added that she hopes to see work completed to connect Williamstown with Adams, and also expand the path through Pittsfield to the Southern parts of the County.
Mayor Alcombright said that he’s anxious to see future progress on the Berkshire Bike path vision.
Construction on the Ashuwillticook extension is scheduled to begin in 2015.