Manhan Rail Trail closed between Millside Park and Putnam Court in Easthampton for utility work

Wednesday, April 09, 2014
EASTHAMPTON — Warmer weather means more people are taking advantage of the Manhan Rail Trail, but city officials are asking them to respect the barriers blocking passage to a section that is closed for construction.

As part of a $2.7 million project to bury electrical lines and water pipes behind some Pleasant Street mill buildings, about one-half mile of trail is now closed between Millside Park on Ferry Street and Putnam Court, said City Planner Jessica Allan.

Allan said that section will remain closed through April 25, at which time the closure will be extended southwest to the Mechanic Street area until approximately mid-June.

On her regular visits to the digging site, Allan said she has seen people walk around the barriers and try to continue down the path despite the signs telling them it is closed.

“It’s important for people to recognize that this is a safety issue. There is construction going on,” she said. “It’s for their benefit and for their safety.”

Until April 25, people can use Putnam Court, Pleasant Street and Ferry Street as a detour around the closed area. Putnam Court will no longer be accessible when the section that extends to Mechanic Street is closed, so after April 25, officials suggest using Union Street, Chapman Avenue, Prospect, Pleasant and Ferry streets or Liberty, Everett, and Lincoln streets, Emerald Place, and Ferry Street.

The project, funded by a MassWorks grant, is designed to provide better water service to the mills and to bury electrical lines that now prevent fire trucks from accessing the rear of every building.

Another MassWorks grant worth $1.5 million will fund the second phase of the project, which includes creating 404 parking spaces between the Manhan Rail Trail and the mill buildings. Allan said the city also hopes to later add lighting, landscaping and paths to make the area more attractive and accessible.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.