State and local officials lined up to cut the ribbon opening the trail.
ADAMS, Mass. — Bicyclists rolled into the Adams Station on Friday afternoon from all directions to celebrate the official opening of the 1.2-mile extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail that goes from Hoosac Street to Lime Street.
Town officials, state representatives and those who played a critical role in the development of bike path turned out under sunny skies for an official ribbon cutting to celebrate its opening.
"This event has a special significance … and it is not every day that we have the opportunity to celebrate these kinds of projects," District 1 Highway Director Francisca Heming said, calling the extension another milestone for the trail and the town of Adams.
"With the completion of this section, it will be possible for more residents in more neighborhoods to walk or bike from their homes to the downtown."
Michael Knapik, a spokesman for Gov. Charlie Baker, called the project a great example of a state and community partnership.
"Anybody who wonders what a community can be in this complicated time of 2017, well this is a great example of what can happen when you can secure state and federal resources," he said. "You can make a difference literally for generations to come."
The $3.3 million project has been years in the making and is considered the initial phase in connecting the 12-mile long path north to North Adams. While the path from Lanesborough to the center of Adams opened more than a decade ago along an abandoned rail line, planning for the new extension was set back a few years to accommodate changes that will allow the Berkshire Scenic Railway to run alongside it from Renfrew to the refurbished Adams Station.
Construction began last year on state-funded extension and it was largely complete by snowfall. The town had already matched a state parks grant to rebuild an old car wash next to the trail into the Adams Station. Town leaders have hoped the station, trail and scenic railway will spark development and tourism in Adams struggling downtown.
State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi attributed the project's success to the town leaders who pushed the project along throughout the years.
"Without their foresight in envisioning this this type of development, it may not have come true," she said. "We have here not only an economic driver but something beneficial to the health of this community and all of those who use the trail in Berkshire County."
State Sen. Adam Hinds added that the citizens' determination had a role in the trail's implementation.
"Truthfully it was all of you sitting out there who decided to have a common vision and get together a lock elbows until it was done," Hinds said. "We are turning a corner with economic development and that is what I love about this trail not only is it good for exercise, but is part of what we are using to brand ourselves ... and it takes advantage of our assets."
Historical Society President Eugene Michalenko said resident Ron Bishop was actually responsible for naming the bike trail the Ashuwillticook as a homage to the former natives.
He said Ashuwillticook means the "pleasant river between the hills."
Michalenko also noted the importance of the railway to the town's past economy. He said it brought in the raw materials to the mills and transported the completed projects.
He said it also brought people from at least 12 different countries to town.
"Most if not all of these people came to this town on those train tracks with their hopes, expectations and their anxieties but also their determination to create a meaningful future," he said. "Now we can vicariously take that same path on a bike ride, jog or walk and enjoy the views, listen to the river watch the bids, and the other creatures that pop up out of the trail."
Last to speak was Berkshire Bike Path President Marjorie Cohan, who thanked members of her group who supported her as the project developed. She also thanked past selectmen and town administrators as well Community Development Director Donna Cesan for advocating for the trail throughout its 15-year existence.
She added that there is no other trail like the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail
"Yesterday, I rode the entire path and appreciated its beauty," she said. "I spent last month on trails in West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania and I have been on paths all over Europe and we are so lucky to have this beautiful path."
Selectman Chairman John Duval thanked former Selectman Arthur "Skip" Harrington for spearheading the event as well as all others involved. He asked all those who attended the ribbon cutting to stay and enjoy Adams.
"This community is a beautiful and we are very proud of what have accomplished and please enjoy this community while you are here today," Duval said. "Stop at one of our great restaurants and actually walk the trail ... this is a beautiful walk."
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