This page details the construction of the railroad underpass in Northampton, Massachusetts in 2016–2017.
The underpass connects the Mass Central Rail Trail — on the east side of the railroad tracks — with the Northampton Bike Trail Network on the west side of the tracks.
Images of the underpass
Construction progress images
The site drawing below, which is from the so-called Public Filing Cabinet on the City of Northampton’s website, shows the plan for the underpass that was presented to the city’s Planning Board in early 2014.
The image above shows an unplowed section of the bike path between the west portal of the underpass and the sidewalk on the south side of the Walgreens property on King Street.
This section of the path is used year-round by people who walk from the east side of the tracks to and from retail shops (in particular the Stop & Shop Supermarket) on the west side of the tracks.
We reported this issues to the City of Northampton in early February 2021. Someone from the city wrote back a few days latter with the news that this section of the bike path is not maintained during the winter.
The project was advertised by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (for MassDOT).
March 30, 2016
The bids (6 in total) were opened — with a low bid of $4,434,700 submitted by Northern Construction Services of Palmer, Ma.
June 2, 2016
The MBTA issued a Notice to Proceed to the contractor.
The contractor commenced work at the site on or about October 12, 2016.
Early November 2016
A shoofly track (around the area of the work site where the first part of the underpass will be constructed) was set up by shifting a section of the active rail line to the west about twenty feet.
Early April 2017
A long section of new track is being built above the completed half of the underpass. This track will be cut-in to the main line and the shoofly track that was constructed last November will be removed.
Late April 2017
The new track above the completed portion of the underpass has been cut-in and the temporary shoofly track was removed.
Construction of the western half of the underpass has commenced.
The underpass concrete work is basically complete and the contractor is now working on the ramps leading to the western entrance.
The contractor is now completing the final grading of the site. Work continues on the finish work and landscaping.
The contractor is demobilizing its forces and equipment from the site now that most work at the site has now been completed. A date for the ribbon cutting and opening of the underpass has not yet been announced, but is expected soon.
November 9, 2017
MassDOT opened the underpass to the public after declaring that the project was substantially complete.
June 7, 2018 | a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event was held at the underpass site.
“Northampton underpass project under way off King Street”
Daily Hampshire Gazette | October 21, 2016
“Northampton bike path tunnel under railroad tracks celebrated at grand opening”
By Mary C. Serreze | The Republican | June 8, 2018
Construction of Northampton Underpass Starts
Trains in the Valley | October 17, 2016
Knowledge Corridor – Northampton Underpass Project (archived)
Development of the rail trail network in the Connecticut River Valley
A series of short videos – with a particular focus on the history and the politics of how they got built as trails.
By Craig Della Penna
Page last updated: March 1, 2021
Page last reviewed: July 17, 2017