Excellent rail-trail news out of the Northeast this week, with communities in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania taking important steps toward opening new segments in their area.
In Salem, N.H., the Eagle Tribune reported that town selectmen voted unanimously to allow work to begin on converting a 2.6-mile section of the former Boston and Maine Railroad corridor into a multi-use trail (right).
The project, being referred to as the Salem Bike-Ped Corridor, has received strong local support since it was first suggested in the 1990s. The Granite State Wheelmen bicycling club, Rockingham Christian Church, the Salem Kiwanis Club, Eastern Mountain Sports and three anonymous donors have raised $25,000 to contribute to construction. And volunteer workers are waiting in the wings. The Iron Horse Preservation Society has been contracted to remove the old rail tracks and ties, work they do free of charge to the local municipalities, recouping their expenses by selling the salvaged steel.
This section in Salem will one day be part of a 120-mile trail between Lebanon, to the northwest, and Lawrence, just across the border in Massachusetts. This grand vision is being supported by federal Transportation Enhancements (TE) grants of more than $1.3 million.
In Manor Township, Pa., local officials have set 2013 as the completion date for 1.5 miles of trail along the former Enola Low Grade rail line from Turkey Hill to Safe Harbor Dam.
The public works crew has begun clearing brush and debris to prepare for laying the trail. Manor Township Public Works Director Mark Harris told Penn Manor News the municipality was exploring ways to reduce the financial impact of initial work.
"We want to do what we can in-house but maintain our level of service," he said. "We can build a mile and a half. We'll start at the dam and go north. It's conceivable that by mid-November we'll be laying trail."