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November 7, 2013

Windham trail's popularity causing safety issues

Rail trail popularity results in safety concerns

WINDHAM — The popularity of the Windham Rail Trail is posing traffic safety issues for the town.

Safety officials told selectmen this week they are concerned that lack of parking on Roulston Road is putting trail users at risk, with cars lining both sides on the crowded southern trail head.

But officials and neighbors agreed the northern trail head on Depot Road is seeing problems of its own with speeding traffic a threat to trail users.

“Scary” is how Windham Rail Trail Alliance president Mark Samsel described conditions to selectmen.

Help is on the way for the south end of the trail near the Salem line.

The town is close to a land deal with the state that will let Windham develop parking north of the intersection of Routes 28 and 111 for people to access the trail.

Selectman Al Letizio Jr., whom the board delegated to work on the issue, said he will bring a proposed agreement before selectmen Nov. 18 for the state property.

It’s an amendment to an existing deal with the state that provides parking on Depot Road.

“We’re rocking and rolling,” Letizio said.

He said he hopes to have full approval for the deal no later than December.

It’s unclear when the town would develop the parking area or how much it would cost.

Town Administrator David Sullivan told selectmen when it was first considered a couple of years ago, the estimated cost of a gravel lot was about $10,000.

The town’s approach to Depot Road may involve a combination of enforcement, road or sidewalk work, but what exactly is uncertain yet.

Selectmen’s Chairman Phil LoChiatto indicated officials will continue working on the issue.

Police Chief Gerald Lewis and fire Chief Tom McPherson, who serve on the town’s highway safety committee, brought the issue before selectmen.

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