All parties with an interest in the future plans for passenger and freight rail service in our region are encouraged to attend this meeting and offer their comments and input to the State Rail Plan Update.
This is the only planned public meeting in Western Mass. before the updated plan is finalized, and the next update to the rail plan will likely not occur before 2021.
The Draft 2016 State Rail Plan Update has not been yet been posted on MassDOT’s website. As soon as this document becomes available we will share a link to it.
Note also that we expect that there will be an opportunity for written comment to be submitted as part of the outreach effort. As soon as these details are available they will be shared.
From what we’ve been told, the meeting will probably end at about 8:30 p.m.
On Monday October 24th we took a tour of the soon-to-reopen Union Station building in Springfield to have a look at the progress to date.
The historic building, which has been vacant for many years, will start to return to service in January 2017 — as an intermodal rail and bus station.
As the images below show, a lot of progress has been made — but clearly, a lot of detail work still has to take place over the next few months before the historic station building can re-open to the public.
Due to the limited amount of time that was available for this tour we were unable to spend any time reviewing the current platform situation at track level. We will review this topic in a future posting.
Work on the much talked about, and long-delayed, bike/pedestrian underpass in Northampton finally got underway when the contractor, Northern Construction Service of Palmer, mobilized its forces and equipment at the site last week.
Here are a few images from the area of the underpass work site from last Saturday —
First, a little history —
On the south of the Walgreens property on King Street there is a concrete path (shown above) that runs perpendicular to railroad tracks.
This path — which at the moment dead-ends at the edge of the property — was designed as a bike path back in 2007 when the Walgreens was built.
The original plan (shown below) even called for the installation of a “bike path ends” sign near the tracks, since it was apparently clear even then that it would be some time before the railroad underpass was built.
Note that all of the existing bike paths in the area of the underpass, including the Walgreens path, will be connected once the underpass project is complete in 2017.
Fast forward nine years.
Here we have a view of the site where the long-delayed underpass will finally be built.
Note the markers that have been placed in the ground by surveyors working on the project.
This image shows markings on the ground (in orange) that would appear to indicate the location of where the actual underpass will be sited.
Shortly before 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon a set of triangular color light signals along the rail line lite up. The signal indication gives the hint that the northbound Vermonter was approaching Northampton.
The next signal was the sound of two short blasts from the engine’s horn as the train pulled out of the station.
At about 4:05 p.m. Amtrak’s Vermonter came around the curve to the south and posed for this nice image.
Actually, the train was traveling at its maximum authorized speed of 30 m.p.h. — for this section of track — when it passed the work site.
Part of the reason the speed is limited to 30 m.p.h. here is because the jointed rail on this stretch of track has not yet been replaced with newer rail.
The jointed rail at this location will be replaced with new continuous welded rail (which can be seen laying in the weeds in this image) once the underpass is constructed.
On the rear of the train was a surprise guest — a private rail car.
This car — known as the Yerba Buena — is owned and operated by the firm Rail Ventures. It is one of about 200 private rail cars in operation in the U.S., many of which are available for private excursions.
The Franklin Regional Transit Authority is currently working to add 24 new short-term spaces to the parking lot at the Olver Transit Center in Greenfield — as shown in the image above. The new parking spaces will be in addition to the existing 15 short-term spaces.
The City of Greenfield has applied for a MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant to complete the funding for the construction of a new multi-level parking structure on Olive Street — across from the transit center and within walking distance of the new Franklin County Courthouse. The proposed 5 level, 4-story open parking structure will contain a total of 358 parking spaces. If awarded a grant, construction of the parking garage is expected to begin in the spring of 2017.