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Maintenance begins on Norwottuck Rail Trail in Amherst and Hadley, major renovation project to start in June

These minor inconveniences for those who use the 8.5-mile long trail that supports both recreation and transportation comes in advance of a large-scale rehabilitation expected to commence this summer.

“The current work is clearing out stormwater drains and swales,” said Reginald Zimmerman, a spokesman for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

It began this week on a stretch between South Maple Street in Hadley east to Hazel Avenue in Amherst, as well as from South Maple Street west to Spruce Hill Road. Next week, the project continues in both locations, as well as from Hazel Avenue to Northampton Road, before finishing the week of April 22 from Northampton Road to South East Street.

Closures overseen by the Department of Conservation and Recreation will take place between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. when work is needed near where the rail trail passes beneath Route 9 in Hadley. A state police road detail will monitor the entry point where equipment will be brought over the guardrail by the tunnel.

As this routine maintenance gets completed, Zimmerman said bids by contractors for undertaking the $4 million rehabilitation will be received by April 23. This project includes resurfacing the pavement and widening the trail in most locations, renovating the three parking lots associated with the trail on Damon Road in Northampton, Railroad Street in Hadley and Station Road in Amherst, and redecking four bridges

“Basically what we’re looking to do is make improvements to the trail and make it accessible to everybody,” Zimmerman said

The trail first opened in 1994 and has gotten bumpy in the last decade, with shards of glass that had been mixed into the pavement being dislodged and causing bicycle tires to puncture, and tree roots pushing up through the pavement. The trail is also narrower, at 8.3 feet, than many more recently built trails.

The will be done in nine phases, supervised by the state Department of Transportation, with June the likely starting time. The hired contractor is expected to begin at the Northampton end of the trail and end at the Station Road parking lot in Amherst.

“We’re projecting this work will be completed in 18 to 24 months,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said the money was secured for the project by former U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst,

The bridge that carries the trail over the Connecticut River will be rehabilitated in a separate project.

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