Pittsfield Opens Bridge Through Former GE Site
State and city officials celebrated the opening of a bridge connecting major routes into Pittsfield on Monday. The new Woodlawn Avenue Bridge cuts across the city’s former General Electric site, connecting East Street and Tyler Street.The route has been closed to traffic since 2006 and was mostly used by GE. In 2011 the company transferred ownership to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, which oversees the 52-acre site now known as the William Stanley Business Park. The previous bridge was demolished in 2012 and construction of the existing route started last year. PEDA’s Executive Director Cory Thurston called the opening of the new public way a historic day for Pittsfield.
“I’m convinced that this is going to quickly become a very popular route,” Thurston said. “It will create much-needed visibility for the William Stanley Business Park. It will boost entrepreneurial opportunities on Tyler Street and be a tremendous enhancement to public safety response throughout the city.”
The $4.5 million project funded by MassDOT allows CSX Railroad to transport double-stack containers between Selkirk, NY and Worcester. The bridge also completes the second phase of the 2.5-mile Morningside Walking Loop, which is partially sponsored by the Tyler Street Business Group. Pittsfield City Council President Peter Marchetti accepted the bridge and the street from PEDA on behalf of Mayor Linda Tyer during Monday’s ceremony.
“It is hard to believe that something as simple as a connector road or a bridge can make something that has been missing for a decade — navigating from neighborhoods — so much easier,” Marchetti said. “We must continue to seek out opportunities to unite our city and make it stronger.”
State Senator Ben Downing, a Democrat from Pittsfield, says the bridge is a sign of making the whole community stronger.
“I know growing up here that this site was one that meant a great deal to the city so redeveloping it is symbolic,” Downing said. “This is a road that we used to cut through growing up so to have it blocked off just sent the wrong signal. I think it’s important that we didn’t just accept that in Pittsfield. We said we deserve better and we deserve to have this. It shouldn’t just be about how do we revitalize the Morningside [neighborhood] or how do we make the south side a better place to live in the city, it’s about how you make sure that the entire city thrives and grows.”
The state has targeted Tyler Street as a transformative redevelopment area, assigning an economic fellow to work in Pittsfield for three years. Woodlawn Avenue connects to East Street near the anticipated Berkshire Innovation Center. Its groundbreaking is being held up by what could be a $3 to $6 million funding gap, because construction and other costs are higher than originally estimated.
Meanwhile, a 16-acre site at the William Stanley Business Park is being sought after for a proposed Walmart Supercenter. The would-be $30 million investment from Waterstone Retail Development includes $12 million of remediation work at the site.