Rail Trail usage in April up 115%

WESTFIELD – Columbia Greenway Rail Trail usage increased by 115% in the first half of April, according to a recent newsletter, which noted that there are a number of counters installed along the Columbia Greenway that automatically monitor trail usage.

“People are wanting to get out when they can and get some exercise, as long as they’re feeling well,” said Carmel Steger, chair of the Friends of the CGRT.

Steger said there are a lot of signs at the kiosk and on the trail reminding people to practice safe distances, along with the regular rules of looking out for people coming towards you and being alert to people coming up behind.

Steger added a few other suggestions, such as not congregating in large groups, and if walking together with others, to be mindful of social distancing. Other rules of the Rail Trail include no smoking, no littering, and picking up from pets.

“As far as I am concerned, this is something available to everybody. Some people are really confined; they need it,” she said.

Steger said she recently was on the trail at around 11 a.m. during the work week. “it wasn’t bad at all. On a work day, it’s not that busy,” she said.

The increase in numbers is also expected to rise as the weather gets nicer. “Usage does spike when we finally get to spring and warmer weather,” Steger said.

Steger also talked about the construction on the downtown central section in Westfield. She said the old bridges are coming down, and clearing has taken place. Currently, they are working on fortifying the structures that will hold the new bridges, which are being constructed off site.

She said the schedule hasn’t been set, but they expect to get an update at their next board meeting from City Engineer Mark Cressotti.

“It is moving along. They’re working on the bridges. They got a late start, but they’re making up some good time. Hopefully, by the end of the season we’ll see some of the bridges in place,” Cressoti said of the project, which is overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

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