Proposed North Adams, Massachusetts, Bike Path Evokes Mixed Response

Nov 26, 2018

The public will have the chance to weigh in on a proposal this week to construct a bike path in North Adams, Massachusetts.

The bike path would start in Williamstown and run though Williams College onto town property for a total of 2.5 miles. Then the bike path would head into North Adams for one mile. 

North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard said outdoor recreation is a key asset for the city.

Mayor Tom Bernard of North Adams, Massachusetts, says the proposed bike path is a great project for the city.
Credit Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

“We have just unbelievable natural beauty, and the bike path takes you through that in a really stunning way,” Bernard said.

But some people, like retired school teacher Anthony Coniglio — whose property abuts the proposed path — said it won’t be stunning for his neighborhood.

Standing in his yard, Coniglio pointed to orange tape tied to a tree, marking the proposed location of the path.

“That's pretty close to our backyard here,” Coniglio said. “And they’re going to bring in heavy equipment to do all this. So that's not going to be a pretty sight. And that's how close people will be.”

Design engineers previously moved the bike path farther away from houses in Coniglio’s neighborhood. But in some places, it could still be as close as 50 feet.

Anthony Coniglio stands in his yard in North Adams, Massachusetts. A proposed bike path would be built behind him. He says it would impinge on his privacy and will fence out wildlife like bear and bobcat.
Credit Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR
The view from Anthony Coniglio's backyard in North Adams, Massachusetts, looking towards the area where a bike path is proposed.
Credit Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The design includes fences or tree plantings between residential properties and the bike path.

Construction will cost about $7.1 million, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Funding for the project from MassDOT and the Federal Highway Administration is estimated to come to about $4.9 million.

After the public meeting this week, the MassDOT said it will try to address any concerns.