The Samuel P. Hunt Foundation of Manchester, New Hampshire has awarded Londonderry Trailways a $75,000 challenge grant. The grant is designated for construction of a quarter-mile section of the rail trail in North Londonderry, which includes purchasing and installing a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) at the intersection of Route 28 and Sanborn Road. The Londonderry Rail Trail crosses Route 28 at that intersection – which is also the entrance to North Elementary School. The beacon is manually activated and will stop traffic in both directions to allow pedestrians to safely cross Route 28 while traffic is stopped in all directions.
Last Spring Londonderry Trailways funded a traffic study, which resulted in NHDOT’s determination that the intersection qualified for a PHB based on hourly traffic counts and safety implications for school children and trail users, including senior citizens accessing the trail from the Senior Center in North Londonderry.
Londonderry Trailways is working closely with the Town Department of Public Works to obtain design approval for the trail segment and intersection crossing. The beacon and quarter mile trail segment connect the North School segment with North Londonderry. The project is “shovel ready” and will cost $219,000. The $75,000 grant from the Hunt Foundation brings the cost down to $144,000. The Foundation requires Trailways to raise $75,000 to receive the full grant amount.
Pollyann Winslow, local volunteer for the Londonderry Trailways, said that the Trailways is always looking for donations, and funding has come in through all phases of planning.
“We’re very grateful for the Hunt Foundation.” Winslow said, “An entity outside our hometown saw value (in this project) and they wanted to support it.”
Winslow mentioned that it was only right that the Londonderry community, which will be benefiting from the safety that will be provided by the Hybrid Beacon, be supportive of the project. She said that ongoing talks with local businesses have been taking place to ensure that the project stay moving forward.
According to Winslow, in the trail’s third phase of construction into Derry, Derry businesses Angus Insurance Company and Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate had been key contributors, as they had seen the value in the Rail Trail being close by to their businesses. She then said as construction of the trail heads north towards the airport, there would be more opportunities to approach different companies to see how they would like to support the community.
“What we hope is that people recognize what an opportunity has been given to…make the area safer.” Winslow said. “And if we don’t raise the matching grant, then we lose this opportunity to have this beacon.”
Winslow acknowledged that some might feel that the Beacon may not be the most desirable answer to crossing Route 28, but she explained that at this time, it is the best that can be done under the circumstances, with route 28 being a state highway under the regulations of the NHDOT, as the intersection currently does not qualify for a traffic signal that runs at all times.
“Sometimes we have to do things in stages.” Winslow said. “(It) may not be what everybody would like, but it is definitely progressive. (We’re) Just grateful that we even have a light…we do what we can in each stage.”
Londonderry Rail Trail Project Manager, Bob Rimol is pleased that the grant was awarded for the PHB. He says, “Safely crossing Route 28 will provide access to the future one mile Cohas Marsh section of trail – the most beautiful section of trail nobody knows about!”
As far as the projected completion date for the beacon, Winslow said that it all comes down to when the money is available to begin. Sh