What's Happening On The Norwottuck Rail Trail

[caption id="attachment_22427" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The Connecticut River Bridge. Photo: Denimadept[/caption]

Residents of the Pioneer Valley have been patiently waiting for construction on the Norwottuck Rail Trail to finish. That trail, along with the Manhan Rail Trail and the Northampton Bikeway, make up the robust network of rail trails that provide low-stress biking and walking routes which connect the Pioneer Valley communities of Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Easthampton, and Haydenville.

The Department of Conservation (DCR), the state agency in charge of maintaining these trails, recently provided an update on construction progress and anticipated closure and reopening dates for sections of the Norwottuck trail slated for work.

Perhaps the biggest inconveniences during construction has been the closure of the Connecticut River Bridge. Trail users have been detoured to the Route 9 bridge - which has a shoulder but no marked bike lane in either direction - to cross the river between Northampton and Hadley. According to DCR, bridge work is complete, but the pathway remains closed. "The pathway on both sides is still an active work zone with paving, concrete work and heavy equipment. Please continue to detour this section."

Work was recently completed on the Damon Road parking lot in Northampton, and a new pre-cast concrete boardwalk is being installed at the Route 9 tunnel in Hadley.

Weather permitting, the entire section of trail from Damon Road to North Maple Street in Hadley, including the bridge, will reopen on or near Memorial Day. Construction heading further east into Amherst will happen in phases and is expected to be completed by September 2014.

MassBike has put together a helpful map that details each construction phase and possible alternative routes during construction. As always, use caution when trying a new route.

Visit this DCR web page about the trail construction for an anticipated work schedule and closures.

We have also previously reported on construction detours on the Manhan Rail Trail and will continue to provide updates as we learn more information.

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