HOLYOKE – Phase Two of the city’s Canal Walk is now open and city officials are starting to look to the next part of the project.
Mayor Alex Morse officially opened the second part of the Canal Walk on Oct. 22. Phase Two is a pedestrian bridge on Race Street, between Middle and Appleton Streets. The project converted an unused railroad bridge into a pedestrian link over the canal.
Morse noted there are several development projects near the Canal Walk, such as the condominiums near the Canal Gallery and the redevelopment of the Cubit building.
He said the city has “created an ecosystem where people are comfortable spending their own money.”
Construction of Phase Two started in 2014 and was funded by a $4.4 million federal earmark.
Morse said, “That’s what progress looks like in the city of Holyoke.”
Vitak Kruta, co-owner of Gateway City Arts located on Race Street near the new bridge, was pleased with the expansion of the Canal Walk. He said it will make the area more pedestrian friendly and safer with additional lighting.
He added that it a “huge improvement” and expected it would help his business especially next year when it offers a fulltime food service.
Marcos A. Marrero, director of Planning and Economic Development, explained the city is in the “initial steps” of planning the next phase of the project. He said ideally the Canal Walk would extend to the Willimansett Bridge via Cabot Street.
Morse said, “The Canal Walk expansion has been a community aspiration for years, and we’re proud to have been able to take this second phase from initial design to complete construction. This project is truly a testament to the collaborative effort of citizens, city leaders and state officials and would not have been possible without the many passionate people who have helped make this idea become a reality. With the opening of the passenger rail platform just feet away, and streetscape improvements that have been made to the surrounding neighborhood, these public investments have already begun to spur private investment along Race Street, and increase connectivity throughout the downtown. I’d be remiss if I did not thank past administrations and the advocacy of former Congressman [John] Olver for securing the funding needed to carry this project through.”