Watching the Honda Dealership Get Demolished in ‘Hamp

Demolishing the old Honda dealership on King St.
Demolishing the old Honda dealership on King St.
The controversial railcrew housing on the tracks near Market St.
The controversial railcrew housing on the tracks near Market St.

Today my travels brought me down to Northampton and as I drove down King St on my way home, I swung into Foster-Farrar so I could get a better look at the demolition taking place at the former Northampton Honda.  There have been so many times we drove past this hulking ugly weed-strewn building and asked ourselves why the heck it was still standing.

The city apparently agreed, and they have forced the owner, Mr Lia, to pay to have it demolished. Today the excavators were taking bites out of the back of the building and soon, it will all be gone. There is so far no word on what will replace the ugly structure, but they sure have a gigantic parking lot. Perhaps the biggest parking lot of any abandoned building in the city.

After watching the men take bites out of the dilapidated building, I walked back to the railroad tracks where a long set of traincars were parked.  This is the controversial rail crew housing train. I met a man gliding down the bike path on a motorized wheelchair who told me that the workers do it all at night–and they were all asleep inside those railcars as we walked by.

I also saw that they had an old Norfolk Southern Railways dining car, perhaps this is where the crew gets to eat. Maybe they even has the fancy old china that used to be used on transcontinental trains. One of the rail crew cars had a satellite dish stuck to the back.

I have never been more excited about a project than I am about this new rail service expansion. I am very curious to see how they will take those very long pieces of steel rail that now sit beside the existing track. Workers in Deerfield told me a few weeks ago that these very long rails will form a continuous track, so there won’t be any more of the familiar clickety-clack you would hear on a normal track.

The commuter service is the most exciting development. But Tim Brennan told me that there is still no funding to pay for the operations of the commuter service, they only have the trains (a gift from the MBTA) which they are refurbishing. Brennan was pretty confident that the funding would come through, and that even if it’s run at a loss for a while, the state realizes the real value of having commuter rail service between Springfield and Greenfield, so they will find a way to fund it.

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