By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire EaglePITTSFIELD — A busy city corridor could soon see road and sidewalk changes.
A redesign for Tyler Street so far involves narrowing the vehicle travel area, adding a bike lane and improving sidewalks — steps that would provide a public counterpart to private investments trickling into the neighborhood.
City planners say the cost will become clear when final designs are ready in February. Early details were revealed at a December public hearing.
Deanna Ruffer, the city’s community development director, said she’s ready to move years of planning into action. Ruffer’s team said the redesign will happen within the next two years.
Plans for Tyler Street dovetail with the city’s downtown streetscape project, which received nearly $30 million in public investment over the past decade. That sum includes $12 million in city funding, $12 million from the state and $5.6 million in federal money for improvements along North Street.
Now, it’s Tyler Street’s turn.
“It’s real. It’s here,” Ruffer told residents and business owners. “We anticipate this moving forward.”
City Planner C.J. Hoss noted that the City Council approved the concept of a Tyler Street redesign within Pittsfield’s capital plan several years ago.
Options that the city is considering would narrow the two-lane street — now 14 feet wide in some places — to 11 feet and add a bike lane. In response to requests from residents, officials are looking to slow traffic along Tyler Street. Consultants said that narrowing the street would help achieve that goal.
Two main design options differ in placement of the bike lane, the number of on-street parking spaces and the width of the sidewalk. One concept would tuck the bike lane between the sidewalk and the parking lane, protecting it from traffic. It would also maintain about 160 parking spaces along the street.
A second option would retain curbside parking but cut the number of spaces from 160 to 124 to allow for curb extensions within key intersections along the street. Curb extensions give pedestrians more protection and increase the line of sight for drivers.
In this second option, the bike lane would be placed between the travel lane and the parking lane.
The plans come as developer David Carver redevelops the former St. Mary the Morning Star Church on Tyler Street into a 29-unit apartment complex, which city officials have called a “transformative project” for the neighborhood.
Property records show that Tim Burke, a managing director for Mill Town Capital, is buying up streetfront property along Tyler Street under a newly formed corporation called Right on Tyler. Reached Thursday, Burke said the three properties he’s recently purchased in the area of Carver’s Morningstar housing development don’t amount to “a significant amount of real estate,” but the purchases weren’t arbitrary.
“It corresponds to our interest in the St. Mary’s project,” he said. Burke told The Eagle in November he has been watching small-business growth along Tyler Street — a corridor that connects the city’s largest employers.
“From a business perspective, it has some really interesting dynamics there,” he said.
Amanda Drane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.
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