Phase two of Canalwalk now underway
Date: 11/24/2010Nov. 24, 2010
By G. Michael Dobbs
HOLYOKE -- The second phase of the Canalwalk is under way and Kathleen Anderson, the director of the city's development efforts believes construction might start within a year to a year and a half.
At a recent informal public meeting, Anderson said the city is now considering two designs for the second phase, which would carry the Canalwalk down Dwight and Appleton Streets to Race Street.
She said the city has met with all of the abutters to hear their concerns and suggestions. Only one abutter has yet to give permission for the project and Anderson doesn't anticipate any problems.
The two different plans must be reconciled to reach a 25 percent level for review and greater funding by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT), she explained to Reminder Publications.
Once the 25 percent design level is reached, DOT will set up public hearings, she said.
A crescent-shaped railroad bridge over the canal presents interesting design possibilities, Anderson noted. She said one idea has been to use the bridge as a stage area for outdoor musical performances.
Other suggestions people expressed were the need to incorporate more parking and make sure trees do not obscure a view of the water, she said.
There are some spaces on the Race Street section, which would be good for displays of artwork, she added.
City officials have spoken with three businesses along Race Street that use tractor-trailer rigs. Anderson said the second phase would be designed in a way to assure continual access for the vehicles.
One part of the project that is expensive will be placing electrical lines underground along the route, she noted.
She believes the finished design will be sent to DOT sometime in February.