WESTFIELD- The North Bridge of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail is officially open for use after a ribbon cutting event Monday evening held in lieu of the annual Mayor’s Bike Ride.
Mayor Brian Sullivan, City Engineer Mark Cressotti, and members of the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail met at the North Bridge despite the rain to hold the ceremony. The opening of the bridge is a step towards connecting the entire Westfield portion of the trail to the rest of the 90-mile network that makes up the entire rail trail. The other end of the trail is down on the coast in Connecticut.
“As we’re cutting a ribbon to finish this part, we’re actually getting ready to cut another one to start the next section,” said Mayor Sullivan, “We’ve been at the DOT meetings and we’re ready to go. All the finances are there and all the plans are there.”
Sullivan said that the completed trail will bring extra life to Westfield as the sections of it are improved from what they were before. He described some sections, including the North Bridge parallel to the iconic green bridges, as having been run down and decrepit before work began.
“Enjoy it. Once we cut this ribbon it’s not about leaving it and not coming back,” said Sullivan, “Mark [Cressotti] put a lot of pride and effort into dressing it up down here and we really want to start using it.”
Cressotti then spoke and thanked all of those who were involved in the project since 1998 when it first started in Westfield. He thanked the Department of Transportation (DOT) for helping to secure an extra million dollars in funding for the next section of the trail.
“A year ago there was a motion by City Council to take the bridge away, and now they’re putting it here,” said Cressotti, “They said it was a bridge to nowhere, but our trusted Ward 1 Councilor said ‘no, it is a bridge to somewhere and that’s my Ward.’”
The final portion of the trail that will be completed will be the section next to Stop and Shop that goes over East Main Street. Once that portion is complete, the entire Westfield portion of the trail will be connected with its counterpart in Southern Connecticut.