SALEM — A transportation project years in the making faces both a milestone and a roadblock.
A railroad preservation group has nearly finished its work on the Salem portion of the rail trail, removing 19th-century rails and railroad ties to make way for a paved path for bicyclists and walkers.
Since Aug. 26, Iron Horse Preservation Society of Nevada has been laying a preliminary coat of recycled asphalt, or “regrind,” along the trail and expects to be done its work by the end of the week, according to project supervisor Ryan Hatrrup.
But local residents are complaining to town officials about the huge stacks of ties sitting along Route 28, saying they are unattractive and must be removed.
Those critics include Selectman Stephen Campbell, who says Iron Horse and project representatives have reneged on their deal.
“It is just an eyesore,” Campbell said yesterday. “You make a deal, you follow through with it. Your word is supposed to mean something.”
Campbell complained about the ties to fellow selectmen and Town Manager Keith Hickey at the board’s meeting last week. He was assured by Selectman Patrick Hargreaves, who consulted with project organizers, that the ties would be removed soon — at no cost to the town.
The entire project is being funded through donations and grants at no cost to Salem taxpayers, according to David Topham, co-chairman of The Friends of the Salem Bike-Ped Corridor.
Iron Horse is doing more than $100,000 worth of work, Topham said, disposing of the old chemical-covered ties and selling the track to help restore historic railroads.
Topham expressed frustration yesterday with Campbell and other town residents, who have complained about the three piles of ties visible along Route 28. They were removed from a 2.8-mile section of the trail.
One of the piles sits at an old entrance to Rockingham Park racetrack. A fourth pile along the heavily traveled route, created last fall, has been moved out of sight, Topham said.