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Long Vehicles Banned from Mount Greylock Roads
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
04:29AM / Monday, May 02, 2022
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Members of DCR told the Mount Greylock Advisory Council that in most cases vehicles longer than 22 feet will no longer be allowed to traverse the roads to the summit.
 
"I think overall everyone will be pleased with the way this came out, and it will fix a lot of problems for us," Mark Jester, mountain district manager for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, said. 
 
The councilors at their last meeting had talked about concerns they had with school buses and other long vehicles navigating the tricky summit roads. They drafted a letter to the state that contained safety concerns as well as maintenance worries with larger, heavier vehicles using the narrow road.
 
"We want people to be able to travel safely. With the steepness and all of the curves, it is difficult and unsafe," Jester said. "You go around a blind corner and here comes a bus over the top of you."
 
Jester said the letter had an impact and that DCR is making changes to parks throughout the commonwealth that have similar problems.
 
"The letter the council sent was great and really got the ball moving," he said. "The commissioner was involved in several meetings."
 
Vehicles longer than 22 feet will not be permitted and that means buses, trucks and recreational vehicles. Exceptions will be made for service vehicles. 
 
Jester said they now have to get the word out. Signage has been placed at the bottom of the mountain, but they still need to reach out to schools and tour groups.
 
Becky Barnes of DCR said the schools all knew this change was coming as it has been a problem for years. She said schools will have to transport children in several smaller vehicles or transport smaller groups, which isn't a bad thing.
 
"They will not be surprised," she said.
 
Council member Isaac Herrmann urged DCR to reach out to Dufour Tours, which provides school bus transportation for the majority of schools in the county.
 
"The busing companies need to be targeted," he said. "It is great to get that information to the schools but they aren't always in control over the buses they get."
 
Barnes clarified that buses can still park in the bigger lots at the base of the mountain.
 
Council member Heather Linscott felt that maybe this should be the only place students can be dropped off, and that the students should ascend the mountain the old-fashioned way by foot.
 
"What example are we setting to have the kids bused up the top of the mountain? It just seems wrong," she said. "Maybe the buses should just go to the Visitors Center ... call me old fashioned."
 
Council member Joseph Rogge understood Linscott's sentiment but noted schools have to be totally inclusive and need to be able to provide access for all students, including those who may have mobility restrictions. 
 
Catalano added that a typical school day may not accommodate a full hike to the summit although he liked the idea of more people actually hiking to the summit instead of driving.
 
The new policy goes into effect on Saturday, May 21, when the park roads open for the season.
 
In other business, the council had concerns over the Sperry Road campground that has been closed for two years.
 
"It is a big part of what people do on the mountain, and it is sad that such an important resource has been closed for two years," Catalano said.
 
Barnes said the problem is that new toilets need to be installed but this is a pretty difficult project with environmental concerns to consider. She said there are endangered species that have to be worked around along with funding shortfalls and supply issues.
 
Jester said they hoped to have the work complete by July but this looks unlikely. He said, realistically, the campground will be closed for another season.
 
Linscott had a concern over the backcountry sites with shelters. She said the ones she has used recently do not have toilets. Which she found troubling on a recent hike.
 
"There were like 15 or 16 Boy Scouts down there camping, and it just seemed terrible that there was no privy," she said. "Then you think how good does a 14-year-old dig a cat hole?"
 
Barnes said it is on the list of things to do but again cited budgetary constraints and supply issues 
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