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Canalwalk plans move forward

Shown above is the west side of the first level canal, located within Heritage State Park. Chicopee Herald photo by Paula Canning
By Paula Canning

Staff Writer

HOLYOKE The city's efforts to move forward with the construction of the proposed Canalwalk received a boost last week when the Massachusetts Highway Department announced their approval of 25 percent of the design plans for the two-mile pedestrian promenade along the city of Holyoke's historic canals.

"This project has taken many twists and turns, but due to the resolve of Jeff Hayden and Karen Mendrala from the Holyoke Planning Department, the Canalwalk is on a positive course," said Mayor Michael Sullivan. "I remained committed to its success."

The plans, which were submitted with the assistance of Project Manager David Loring of Tighe and Bond, call for a pedestrian walk that would add to the current walk, which exists on the west side of the first level canal within Heritage State Park between Dwight and Appleton streets.

The first-phase design plans are for the sections along the east and west sides of the first level canal between Lyman and Dwight streets.

Ultimately, the finished project would connect south to the Connecticut River Walk in Chicopee and north to the Northampton bike path.

City officials have said that preliminary costs estimates are pegged at $1.9 million for the first phase of the project, which has been in the planning stages since the mid-90's.

In April, the City Council appropriated the remaining $49,000 needed for the city to complete the design plans for the Canalwalk, which would link the city's canals with historic mills, a state park, the historic downtown, a children's museum, residential neighborhoods, and private galleries and shops.

Design plans for the first phase of the project, according to the city's website,, include such items as provisions to promote public safety and security such as adequate visibility; traffic safety and walkway regulation signs; guardrails; barriers; railroad bridge rehabilitation and crossing; on-site drainage features and scenic overlooks and other special features.

Plans for the Canalwalk project will now be modified and finalized for 75 percent and then 100 percent completion and approval, according to a press release from Sullivan's office.