Work on Phase 5 of the Rail Trail in Londonderry began last week.
The on-going project has been going on since 2014, when the first phase was opened to the public and the organization that is operating the project in Londonderry, Trailways, adds phases whenever it can be afforded. The grand scheme, according to Trailways member Pollyann Winslow, is for 106-miles of rail trail to go from Lebanon N.H. to Salem, Mass.
Each town is in charge of its own part of the trail and Trailways, the local volunteer organization, had a warrant on the 2019 March ballot and successfully asked the people of Londonderry to approve the use of $600,000 from the undersigned fund balance for construction of Phases 5 and 6. It was the third time Trailways was on the ballot and the third time the organization’s request passed.
Out of the $600,000, Winslow says that $200,000 will be used to receive a $1 million grant from the state. When the organization applies for a state grant, it is asked to participate with some amount and this is what the state wanted. Winslow says that the grant was specified for Phase 6, a phase that will connect in the airport area between the trails of Manchester and Londonderry, thus allowing much more people to use it. $200,000 more will be used in addition to the state grant for Phase 6 and $200,000 went to the construction of phase 5 (In addition to $225,000 on-hand raised by Trailways).
The organization plans on opening Phase 5, which will be about 1 mile long and start near the senior center in the northern part of town, on Nov. 1. Part of that area was not accessible to the public so far, but will be with the new section of the trail and will provide a scenic route. Phase 5 will come out on Harvey Road, where the runway is.
Winslow explained that the grant from the state was only for Phase 6 (The connecting one), but without building Phase 5 first, there was no reason to continue.
There are also plans for a Phase 7 that will connect the Londonderry and Derry rail trails, on the other side, where phase 1 starts. So far, the trail is 3.6-mile long, starting at North Elementary School. Phases 5 and 6 will add almost two more miles, but phase 6’s plans may change in the future, as they are not final yet. Trailways thought it will run near the airport fence, but security keeps pushing it backwards and it will probably be closer to a sidewalk of existing roads, which will make it more expensive.
The rail trail is a 10-foot wide trail and it is paved and referred to by Trailways as “stroller to senior friendly.” Winslow adds: “The voters approved the funding in March, but we don’t get our money until July 1, when the new budget year begins. Only then we put out bids and found a company that could only start now, by the end of August. We want the community to know this is going on, because they voted in March to up their taxes and they paid them on July 1. We want people to know that phase 5 started and should be done this fall. When a phase is done, we usually do a ribbon cut ceremony. Also, every spring we have a family fun day, because we know that November won’t be a very good trail season.”