ADAMS -- Despite a big setback late last year, the long-planned Route 8 project at the hairy intersection near 7-Eleven appears to be back on track.
A consensus thinks a roundabout is the best solution, but $670,000 in federal funds the town had lying in wait of a completed design were reallocated to Berkshire Regional Transit Authority last October. The transfer was green-lighted by President Obama's "We Can't Wait" initiative.
But a Massachusetts Department of Transportation (Mass- DOT) representative felt safe wagering a member of the audience at a public hearing Tuesday that new funding would be available sooner rather than later.
"We hope we can advance [the project] closer to today," Tom Currier, a MassDOT highway division project manager, said. "We don't see any roadblocks to completing the design and getting it slotted in at an earlier date."
The wager was only a lunch, to abutter John Burke of Burke Construction, but "that means a lot to me," Currier added.
The proposed roundabout would allow a constant flow for the site's daily traffic of 17,000 vehicles. Commuters would slow to a posted speed of 15 miles per hour in passing. The structure would be 119 feet in diameter.
Currier said the project is slated for 2017 on the federal Transportation Improvement Program waiting list, but the list tends to be fluid in practice.
A completed design would likely bump up the project, he said. DOT and local Metropolitan Planning Organization would make this decision after the project is deemed "shovel ready."
Engineer Matthew Chase of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin said roughly 50 percent of the design work is done. It could be completed in 18 months, he estimated.
"It's really a lot safer than a traditional intersection," Chase said of the design.
MassDOT agreed to fully fund the remainder of design costs after the town lost the federal funds it had reserved.
Parking and property concessions needed from each of the three abutting businesses have been worked out, apart from finer details such as utility pole placement and other minor adjustments.
"It looks like we can come up with a fair compromise for all of the neighbors," Daniel Maloney, representing McAndrews King, said at Tuesday's meeting.
Town Administrator Jonathan Butler said the town's highway, police and emergency personnel are behind the design.
"This is a very important project," he said. "It's been a traffic concern for ages. ... It's a unique design but it's also a very efficient design, and a safer design."
Currier said MassDOT is lately involved in more roundabout projects. Several exist in his town of Norfolk.
"It's a good opportunity to make a nice entry into your town," he said.
To reach Phil Demers,