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Lawrence Tucker: Supports increased rail trail safety for all users

  • John Knowlton of Palmer-based Northern Construction prepares a stone bed for the temporary relocation of railroad tracks Oct. 20 while working on a 4.4 million project to build an underpass that will connect the Mass Central Rail Trail and the Northampton Bike Trail, which are currently separated by the tracks.


Thursday, July 06, 2017

Recent coverage in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on May 20 (“Tunnel to safer biking”) and June 23 (“Officials: rail underpass on budget, schedule”) have highlighted the $4.4 million Massachusetts Department of Transportation rail trail tunnel project between Woodmont Road and King Street in Northampton.

I heartily applaud any and all efforts by our state, county, city and town agencies to create safer trail connections for all users, and this tunnel certainly provides the ultimate in safety as it accomplishes a complete separation of the bicycle trail from the railroad tracks.

State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack on her visit to this site on June 22 stated that this project accomplishes three objectives: ensuring safety, encouraging more rail traffic and connecting the region’s trail system. And, if we look to the east in the town of Hadley, there exists a virtually identical situation.

Our friends, neighbors and relatives in the local snowmobile community are working for a safe passage across (under?) Route 9 from the southern section of Hadley into the northern section. This effort is ongoing as Route 9 bisects the town of Hadley and it is being widened from two lanes up to a four-lane highway and this widening will preclude crossing of Route 9 at grade level.

There already exists a tunnel under Route 9. And so, as has been done in Northampton, if our state, county and local agencies can work collaboratively to help utilize a safe way to separate the snowmobile trail from the auto traffic on Route 9, then we will have afforded the same level of safety to all trail users.

Lawrence Tucker

South Hadley