Posted by: iBerkshires | November 25, 2008

Look Ma, No Windows!

Clark Biscuit Building

Clark Biscuit Building

OK, the progress on the Hadley Overpass is going even slower than I expected. To tide us over, I’m overing a little update on two other long-anticipated projects in North Adams – the Clark Biscuit Co. makeover and the facelift at the Mohawk Theater.

On Tuesday, all the windows had been removed from the red-brick section of the old biscuit company mill on Ashland St. The beige side of the mill had already been gutted and plastic put up over most of the openings.

The lack of windows gave a clear view into the building that’s being rehabbed into affordable apartments. The structure was purchased by Arch Street Development of Needham earlier this year – contingent on a lot of fancy financing and guarantees from state, local and federal agencies – for $167,000. The more-than-century-old mill’s been a lot of things since they used to make biscuits in its ovens. The last owner used the building for his own church.

see through

see through

Arch Street is pouring $12 million into the structure to create 43 apartments that should be ready this coming summer. The company’s also planning the renovation of the former Notre Dame School into some high-end condos.

It’s hard to tell what the progress is at the Mohawk on Main Street. We’ve been keeping watch on the project across the street from us but most of it’s being done behind the plywood walls built around the long lobby and next-door office. But every so often they open the doors and we get to peak at what’s inside. Looks a little scary right now.


A peek inside the Mohawk.

The city is putting about $3 million (mostly grants) into the building to restore it to its former glory. Eastern General Contractors of Springfield is doing the demolition and code work as part of the first phase. The second phase will be the restoration of the 70-year-old art deco theater.

First-run films aren’t likely to make a return to the Mohawk but, hopefully, it will become a showcase for local theater, independent films and festivals, and traveling acts.

Speaking of theaters, we might as well throw in the $13 million Beacon Cinema project. A trip to Pittsfield last week meant strolling by the historic Kresge-Kinnell building that is currently wrapped in plastic as its transformed into a cinema, retail and restaurant hub. City officials are hoping that bringing the movies back to North Street will draw residents and others back to the downtown.

North Street had at least three theaters at one time, all put out of business after the cinemas opened in the Berkshire Mall.

Wrapped up tight

Wrapped up tight

Posted by: iBerkshires | November 4, 2008

Slow Going

Three years is a long time so don’t expect a lot happening at the moment, especially as winter begins to close in. We can report that the pathway along the east side of State Street has been completed and runs under the Hadley to Heritage State Park and the Freight Yard Pub.

There was nobody out there late this afternoon, but work is  continuing on the parking lot being built to replace the spots being lost under the bridge. (No more parking under the bridge on a rainy day to keep dry, at least not for awhile.) It looks like the shortcut under the bridge to City Hall is closed until further notice.

Posted by: iBerkshires | October 28, 2008

Overboard Update

Update on 10/29:

Three men installing a work platform under the overpass tumbled off on Tuesday afternoon, according to MassHighway spokesman Klark Jessen on Wednesday. “All three fell at the same time.”

One was able to grab onto something; the other two fell about 40 feet into the Hoosic River. Jessen confirmed that all three were wearing harnesses.

Both men who fell into the Hoosic’s flood control chute were treated and released from North Adams Regional Hospital. Neither was seriously injured although the second man (seen above wearing a pink coat thrown down by a passer-by) is believe to have broken or otherwise injured his arm.

Firefighters were able to pull the first man up with a rope he attached to his harness.

The three are employed by Tri-State Painting, a subcontractor working under J.H. Maxymillian. They were preparing the platform to do some work on the bridge’s trusses.

Jessen said it was not clear why  or how the accident occurred. OSHA is expected to investigate the accident, as it does all construction accidents; Jessen said Maxymillian was also planning an internal investigation.

The work area was shut down on Wednesday, in part because an early snowstorm.

Two men fell from the construction area at the Hadley Overpass this afternoon and were requested from the water of the Hoosic River.

Details are still unclear at this point, but the men were apparently working for a subcontractor on the bridge. Several people at the scene said the men were related, and that when the first fell in, the second jumped in to save him.

Both men were plucked safely from the flood control chute, which is flowing heavily because of the recent rains. That rushing current may well have been a lucky break – in dry times, the river is shallow stream along the edge of the concrete chute.

One man was rescued unharmed from behind City Hall; the second from beyond the West Main Street, behind Subway. The Fire Department (which is across the street from the work site at the Hadley) responded promptly and was able to get the men the second man out using a ladder. The second man is believed to have injured his arm; the first appeared soaked but without serious injuries.

Representatives from MassHighway, which is overseeing the construction, declined to comment at the scene. North Adams Fire Director Stephen Meranti was still gathering information so we’ll update when we find out more. Meranti did say this was the second or third time this year the department had had to pull someone out of the flood control chute.

Posted by: iBerkshires | October 28, 2008

Going, going, gone …

The decrepit stairs leading to the top of the Hadley Overpass were torn down on Monday, headed for the scrap pile. There are no plans to replace the shortcut to the top, which has been closed for safety reasons for years.

The shortcut between American Legion Drive and City Hall was blocked off by fencing. It wasn’t clear Monday whether that was for the removal of the stairs or if it’s long term. We’ll find out as soon as possible.

A poster last week asked a great question about the use of police details during construction.

Yes, the governor has ordered MassHighway to review the use of police details as a way to cut costs. But reading the rules, it appears civilian flaggers will be used in specific situations. I haven’t gotten a response back from MassHighway but we’re working on it. North Adams Police were on the scene over the past week.

Posted by: iBerkshires | October 17, 2008

In the Beginning

As in the beginning of the long-awaited renovation work on the Hadley Overpass in North Adams.

Rather than try to write the standard story on the repairs every three to six months, iBerkshires will blog the three-year project as a way to keep residents up to date on what’s happening. So check back here to find out about traffic delays, construction and progress as we look forward to the project’s completion in June 2012.


The bridge is owned by the state and the project is being overseen by MassHighway. The contractor is Maxymillian Construction.

The Hadley is the longest span in the Berkshires at 940 feet and is 68 years old.

The last significant work on the bridge was done nearly 30 years ago.

The groundbreaking for the project was held on Oct. 2.

Which brings us up to today: A parking lot is being created at the south end of the bridge on a vacant lot where two apartment buildings once stood. The lot, and a sidewalk that will lead under the bridge, are being created to ensure access to Western Gateway Heritage State Park once construction begins in earnest.

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