State awards roadway safety grants to Hilltowns 

For the Gazette
Published: 1/26/2020 11:18:24 PM
Modified: 1/26/2020 11:18:09 PM

WILLIAMSBURG — The Baker-Polito administration announced on Thursday that grants totaling $5.3 million have been awarded to five towns in western Massachusetts for infrastructure projects.

Assistant Secretary for Communities and Programs Juan Vega joined state Sen. Adam Hinds, and state Reps. Smitty Pignatelli and Natalie Blais in Williamsburg to present the MassWorks Infrastructure Program awards to the towns of Cummington, Williamsburg, Middlefield, Hinsdale, and New Marlborough.

Each year, the MassWorks program allocates 10 percent of awarded funds to municipalities with populations of 7,000 or less to complete roadway safety projects.

“I am grateful to the Baker administration for recognizing the need, and the commonwealth for providing this assistance,” said Blais, D-Sunderland.

Cummington received $1 million that will be used to reconstruct a 1.5-mile stretch of Route 112, from the historic William Cullen Bryant Homestead to the popular Old Creamery Co-op at the intersection of Route 9.

The project will divert water off the road, which is currently prone to frequent flooding, causing unsafe conditions and lengthy traffic detours. The flooding has been a particular problem for emergency responders who have had to detour up to three miles when traveling to the Hilltown Health Center in Worthington, and other medical facilities in Pittsfield and Northampton.

“Once completed, this project will greatly improve overall traffic flow and access by emergency services to safely attend to residents of not only Cummington but our neighbors in and around the Hilltowns as well,” Cummington Select Board Chairman Bill Adams said. “This is clearly an exciting project that would not have happened if it were not for this timely grant.”

A $350,000 grant awarded to Williamsburg will be used to replace a collapsed culvert on Depot Road. The project will alleviate frequent flooding caused by the damaged culvert, which has created a 3-by-10-foot sinkhole in the roadway.

The work will also include the realignment of the road, which is a major connector road to Route 9.

“The project has been on the books for eight years now, but the cost to a small town like ours is a lot,” Williamsburg Town Administrator Charlene Nardi said. “So this grant is huge for us.”

Williamsburg Select Board Chairwoman Denise Banister said that Depot Road is also an important emergency access route and the grant will make a significant difference to health and safety in the Hilltowns.

“The Massworks grant program and other awards are vital to small towns, and make a big difference in our ability to address infrastructure,” Banister said.

Other awards included a $1 million grants to Middlefield and Hinsdale and $2 million for New Marlborough.

Thursday’s presentation marks the final MassWorks grant awards of 2019. During the year, more than $72 million in MassWorks awards went to a wide range of 36 projects in 35 cities and towns across the state.

“We will continue to collaborate closely with local leaders to identify opportunities and target public resources toward the growth and well-being of communities across the commonwealth,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement about the program.

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