Northampton Underpass

The Knowledge Corridor – Restore Vermonter Project included funding for the construction of a bicycle/pedestrian underpass in Northampton.

The underpass — which is now under construction — will connect the Mass Central Rail Trail, which currently terminates on the east side of the railroad tracks, with the Northampton Bike Trail on the west side of the tracks.

The official projected completion date for this project is October 25, 2017.

We had heard (in early June) that the project might be finished as early as late July or early August but this now seems unlikely.

Northampton Bike Paths | edited March 3, 2016


Recent images

The western entrance of the new bicycle/pedestrian underpass
Northampton, Ma. | Behind the McDonald’s – looking East | July 16, 2017

The image above shows that most of the concrete work required to build the underpass is now complete.

The contractor has completed the backfilling around the western portion of the underpass structure and they are currently working on the north and south ramps that lead to this entrance.


Construction progress image of the new bicycle/pedestrian underpass
Northampton, Ma. | Behind the Walgreens – looking South | July 16, 2017

This image shows the two ramps that will lead to the western entrance of the underpass.

If you take a close look at the underpass structure you can see that it has been built to a width that would support the addition of a second railroad track at this location. Why this was done we do not know for sure, but we will try to find out.


The eastern entrance to the new bicycle/pedestrian underpass
Northampton, Ma. | Woodmont Rd – looking West | July 15, 2017

Of particular note is the open-pit, in the lower right corner in this image. At the time this image was taken ground water was being pumped from this pit.

The water pumping operation at this location would seem to be part of a dewatering effort at this work site.


Construction progress images


Northampton, Ma. | Woodmont Rd – looking North | August 12, 2016


Northampton, Ma. | Woodmont Rd – looking North | November 11, 2016



Northampton, Ma. | Woodmont Rd – looking North | February 18, 2017


Northampton, Ma. | Woodmont Rd – looking North | April 9, 2017


Northampton, Ma. | Woodmont Rd – looking North | May 14, 2017


Northampton, Ma. | Woodmont Rd – looking North | July 16, 2017


The document 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. (This is the current site drawing for the project.)

Northampton Underpass Plan
Northampton Underpass Civil General Plan | January 24, 2014


Current Status

The project was advertised by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (for MassDOT) during the winter of 2016.

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 [with construction] to the contractor.

July 2016 | vegetation on the site was cleared.

September 2016 | Construction staking of the work site was completed.

October 2016 | 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.

February 2017 | the eastern half of the underpass now appears to be complete. When the weather improves the active rail line will be shifted back to its original location so that the western half of the underpass can be constructed.

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. Once this happens the western half of the underpass will be constructed.

Late April 2017 | the new track above the completed portion of the underpass has been cut-in and the temporary shoofly track was removed.

May 2017 | construction of the western half of the underpass has commenced.

July 2017 | the underpass concrete work is basically complete and the contractor is now working on the ramps leading to the western entrance.


Further details will be provided as they become available.


Recent news

“Northampton underpass project under way off King Street”
Daily Hampshire Gazette | October 21, 2016


See also

Construction of Northampton Underpass Starts
Trains in the Valley | October 17, 2016


External links

Knowledge Corridor – Northampton Underpass Project (MBTA)

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: July 17, 2017
Page last reviewed: July 17, 2017