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Columbia Greenway

Rising High

Thanks to the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail (FOCGRT), Westfield’s opportunities for recreation and non-motorized transportation are moving to a higher level. 


By this time next year, the Columbia Greenway’s downtown segment connecting Main Street and the Twin Bridges section will be complete. With a projected opening date of April 2023, this new phase will link the Whip City’s more urban neighborhoods to nearby greenspaces and safe, auto-free access to friends, errands, eateries, exercise, and worship. 

Furthermore, because it includes five separate raised bridges, the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail will be one of only a handful of elevated rail-to-trail projects in the nation. While users are walking, cycling, running, rollerblading, or skateboarding along, vistas of waterways, tobacco fields, and small-city commerce will beckon below. 

Truly and metaphorically, “It really does transport you,” Carmel Steger, FOCGRT board chair, said.

The downtown section will open after the refurbishment of the Elm Street bridge near the District Courthouse. With that, Westfield will have a 3.2-mile ribbon of rail trail stretching from the Southwick line at Shaker Farms Country Club all the way to the beautiful Westfield River Esplanade.  

Right now, Columbia Greenway Rail Trail users can spin onto the trail at Stop and Shop and pedal 70 miles south to New Haven. Contiguous travel north of the Westfield River, however, is still some years away. First, the town of Southampton hasn’t begun building their rail trail yet, so there’s a gap between Westfield and Easthampton.

Second, phasing the Columbia Greenway through Westfield’s north end means circumventing both an active railway and the Massachusetts Turnpike. “Those are two huge, huge obstacles,” Steger said. Still, the feisty FOCGRT group has been working with residents, local and state governments, engineers, and funding sources since 2009. They’ve secured not one bridge but five. Clearly, endurance is sewn into this group’s fiber.

"Our Board continues advocating for development of more safe and accessible multiuse paths like the Greenway throughout the city," Steger said. 

And, while steps toward this future sometimes seem slow, “There’s so much here to enjoy right now,” she noted.

To support the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail, go to