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City wins $78K grant for rail trail ramp

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/17/2020 3:32:26 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $78,605 grant to the city for an access ramp from Edwards Square to the Mass Central Rail Trail on the outskirts of downtown. 

The new access point will be located behind the ServiceNet building at 131 King St. near an existing gravel path and will give nearby neighborhoods a closer access point to the trail, said Wayne Feiden, the city’s director of planning and sustainability. He said the city expects the project to go out to bid in the spring.

Feiden said the city had identified that stretch of the rail trail for improvements since there are less on- and off-ramps to the trail. According to Feiden, there’s currently an entrance to the trail near the Hampshire District Registry of Deeds and another farther down King Street, leaving a wide stretch of the city without a close access point. 

“This investment will make one of our most densely populated neighborhoods in Northampton more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly,” said Mayor David Narkewicz in a statement. “This is one of the most effective ways to make our citizens healthier and happier, reduce pedestrian and bicycle crashes, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, congestion and parking shortages downtown.”

According to Feiden, the project is part of a larger goal to connect 75 percent of the city’s population with shared-use paths. As of right now, 65 percent of the city is in proximity to an access point, he said. Feiden pointed to a one-mile paved shared-use path from Sandy Hill Road to Burts Pit Road, which opened last year, as an example of this initiative. 

“Having an on-ramp in this area (Edwards Square) means that everyone in that neighborhood can have easy access to the rail trail,” Feiden said.

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com. 


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