So it looks like the upgrade to Kanishka Passage, the below the train tracks foot tunnel that links Hillside Avenue and North Lehigh Avenue, is back on track (or, really, UNDER track), after an agreement between the township and Conrail over the license for use of the tunnel has been reached. The materials are here already, so now it’s just a matter of seeing when the contractors can complete the work. It is hoped that this can be done over the source of students’ winter break, to impact Hillside Avenue School walking students as little as possible.
This tunnel, which basically opens directly to Hillside Avenue School, is depended on by many. MANY. Anyone who has ever been outside of the school early in the morning before school starts can attest to the fact that the hill seems to belch out an insane number of seemingly-never-ending children that use this passage as their means to get to school. It’s sort of the “clown car” of tunnels. Without the tunnel, those students would add at least another quarter of a mile to their route, which would have to take them down to Centennial Avenue for their next opportunity to traverse the tracks. And then there are those who, despite being warned and commanded otherwise, become tempted to actually CROSS OVER the tracks. So, needless to say perhaps, many Cranford residents will be VERY happy if this job can be done by the end of this year!
But for all of the publicity that Kanishka Passage has had this year, how many actually know how it got its name?
Dr. Kanishka Paul, a native of Bangladesh, and a Cranford resident, attended Hillside Avenue School as a child, and graduated from Cranford High School in 1996. Sadly, he died in his sleep of natural causes in his Cranford home just months after he completed his medical degree.
Kanishka’s sister, Dr. Konika Paul Bose, and her husband, Shubhro Bose have worked with family members to find a means by which Kanishka could be remembered by the community he called home. They decided that this could be best done by making donations to causes he helped to support during his life — education and children. The Kanishka Foundation has paid for the educational expenses of students in Bangladesh and offers scholarships to Cranford students. In 2010, when it was decided that improvements needed to be made to this foot tunnel, it was funded by the Kanishka Foundation, in honor of Dr. Kanishka Paul.
Kanishka was proud of being a Cranford resident, and made several return trips to Hillside Avenue School after he graduated to visit teachers at the school. This memorial passageway, then, benefits students who now attend the school he so loved. The family dedicated the tunnel, named “Kanishka Passage,” just four days after Paul would have celebrated his 32nd birthday on Dec. 15, 2010.
Let’s hope we can continue to honor his memory with a new, improved version of this well-utilized passageway.