By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle
PITTSFIELD — Rainy weather has dampened recent efforts to remove the blighted Mill Street Dam, according to the city’s natural resources chief.
Jim McGrath, the city’s parks and natural resource program manager, said removing water from the area is an important part of the project. But a rainy October made that difficult.
“We’ve been moving the project along as best we can,” he said. “We’re definitely pushed back several weeks as a result.”
The project faced a setback earlier in the season when the price tag jumped from $1.9 million to $3.1 million after bids came back higher than expected.
Removal of the structure — it’s also known as the Tel-Electric Dam — will improve continuity and ecology along the West Branch of the Housatonic River and serve the city’s revitalization mission, officials say. City leaders also have said the aging structure harbors crime.
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In the coming months, contractors will remove the 20-foot-by-40-foot dam, dispose of contaminated sediments trapped below and reconstruct surrounding banks.
McGrath said engineers designed a bypass system to dewater the work area, but the system couldn’t handle the increased flow posed by heavy rains. If the rain continues, he said, project planners might have to engineer a new way to reroute the river’s waters.
“And that could come at an additional cost, but that hasn’t been realized yet,” he said.
The project can continue into the winter months, McGrath said, so long as temperatures don’t drop low enough to prevent equipment from working. “But we’re not there, yet,” he said.
The city has several partners in this project, he said, including the Department of Environmental Protection, the Environmental Protection Agency, the state’s Natural Resource Damage Trustees, and the Division of Ecological Restoration for the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Amanda Drane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.
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