It’s been years in the making, but now there’s hope construction of a rail trail from Salem to Concord will move full steam ahead.
The Regional Trails Coordinating Council recently approved a plan its members said will help complete a trail system for cyclists, hikers and others that enhances transportation and recreation in Southern New Hampshire.
For residents of Salem, Windham, Derry and Londonderry, it’s hoped approval of the Regional Trails Plan will help them fund and expedite the portions of the 115-mile rail trail — from Methuen to Lebanon — that pass through their towns.
“There are many bits and pieces,” said David Topham of Salem. “It’s about connecting people and projects.”
For more than a decade, Salem residents have worked to establish a 5.1-mile trail in their town along the old Boston & Maine rail line, laid in 1849.
People in Windham, Derry and Londonderry have been doing the same thing, with varying degrees of funding and success.
While most of Windham’s portion was completed several years ago, work in Salem only began late this fall despite years of planning. Much of Derry’s portion is completed as well, while much work remains in Londonderry, where a warrant article to be presented to voters in March seeks funding for the project.
Residents and town officials in each community have worked on their own. With development of the trail plan, the goal is for these people to come together and complete the segments in the many towns along the route, according to David Preece, executive director of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission.
The commission, the council and the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission are combining efforts to complete the Salem-to-Concord corridor. Rail trails also extend west to Lebanon and to northern New Hampshire.