$1.4M coming to region for trail work in six communities

Taylor Davis Landscape Co. workers, seen near the former Hickory Ridge golf course clubhouse in April, are working on an accessible trail system that’s expected to be complete by October. 

Taylor Davis Landscape Co. workers, seen near the former Hickory Ridge golf course clubhouse in April, are working on an accessible trail system that’s expected to be complete by October.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 07-07-2024 2:01 PM

NORTHAMPTON — More than $1.4 million in MassTrail state grants are heading to six communities in the region for projects ranging from an accessible trail system at the former Hickory Ridge Golf Course in Amherst to additional work on a sensory trail in Belchertown and rehabilitation of rail trails in Northampton and Easthampton.

The grants are among $12 million being parceled out by the state to 65 communities statewide for trail improvements.

The largest of the grants in this area is going to Northampton, which will receive $500,000 to rehab 2.6 miles of the MassCentral Trail — the “Northampton Bikeway” section from State Street to Bridge Road. This segment receives routine maintenance such as pothole repairs, but there has been no structural maintenance since 1982, when the trail was built, according to an application submitted to the state by the Department of Public Works.

Work will include asphalt resurfacing, pavement markings, signs, and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant rail trail crossings.

Meanwhile, Easthampton is receiving $330,000 for pavement preservation along the Manhan Rail Trail.

The project proposes to remove trees and roots that are heaving the trail and causing disrepair to pavement conditions. The pavement in these areas is hazardous to users, the city said in its application.

The type of pavement repairs anticipated include minor crack repairs and sealing, asphalt repairs through a mill and overlay, full-depth trench repairs with tree removals, tree root removals and root barrier installations, and other preventive tree removal and root barrier installs to protect pavement.

In Amherst, Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek told the Conservation Commission at a recent meeting that the town’s latest grant, totaling $109,584, will be used to connect a loop trail on the 150-acre West Pomeroy Lane site to a north-south trail. This will allow for easier access to the Pomeroy village center and its restaurants, shops and services for those living in neighborhoods and apartment complexes off East Hadley Road. Many of those residents are people identified as part of environmental justice communities.

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In addition, a portion of the grant, supplementing $500,000 the town already has in hand, will cover costs to repair a footbridge over the Fort River, which passes through the site.

When completed by Taylor Davis Landscaping of Amherst, the trail system, a portion of which is being called the Hickory Ridge Accessible Riverwalk Loop Trail, will have 6-foot-wide crushed stone paths and be fully accessible for those using wheelchairs, Ziomek said.

“We are grateful for the grants we have received to develop this trail system, which will increase connectivity for many residents and provide additional opportunities to explore and appreciate Amherst’s natural environment,” Ziomek said.

The development of the trail system has been coming along nicely, Ziomek said, though the contractor is racing the clock to get the work done before the end of summer so that reimbursements are provided by the state. The trails will likely not be open to the public until October, after signs and benches are installed as the last elements.

Other projects receiving money include:

■ Sunderland, $195,090 for the Norwottuck North shared-use path through Sunderland, Amherst, Deerfield and Whately. This project would design a 10-foot-wide path from the Whately Park and Ride off I-91 along Route 116 and through South Deerfield passing DCR’s Sugarloaf, over the Connecticut River, and through Sunderland ending just south of Meadow Street in Amherst.

From there, it will connect to a future alignment that is on the MassTrails Priority Trails Network Vision Map. The trail would provide commuters with safe separated multimodal option for travel and recreation access.

■ Belchertown snared $85,000 to extend the Lake Wallace Sensory Trail, a 1.5-mile-long, fully accessible recreational and educational trail. The grant is designed to significantly expand accessibility around Lake Wallace, Carriage Grove, the Foley Field athletic complex, and adjacent public spaces and facilities.

The Sensory Trail Extension extends the reach of accessible infrastructure to existing and proposed community anchors near the project site.

■Williamsburg secured $204,000 to connect the Massachusetts Department of Transportation South Main Street bridge improvement project and the MassDOT Williamsburg Mill River Greenway to the Mass Central Rail Trail at the Haydenville/Northampton town line, via a half-mile South Main Street Connector.

This MassTrails grant will supplement a pending $500,000 Complete Streets grant aimed at constructing a 10-foot wide, 450-foot long fully accessible shared-use path.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.