Our goal is to build sections of trail with independent use along the old railroad grade, eventually tying them together to complete a 34 mile linear park from Concord to the shore of Lake Sunapee. Some towns and organizations have already improved sections of trail along or tying into the original grade. In other areas we will need to plan and coordinate with private owners, infrastructure teams and communities to restore or re-route a workable trail. In our initial efforts, we are identifying and establishing strategic sections of the trail, leveraging some existing trails in each town to help define a basic route and reinforce our long-term vision.
The core team at CLSRT has representation from each of the towns to coordinate the end-to-end trail vision and efforts. Each town will also have its own team or teams focused on the needs and projects specific to that town.
We will respect the desires of landowners along the trail for quiet usage, and work in close collaboration with all landowners to understand their needs and concerns.
We collaborate with the snowmobile organizations in areas of the trail that are in use by snowmobiles. In these shared sections of the trail we will need to establish signs and usage guidelines to ensure that the trail is safe for multi-use.
In 2018 we came across this Trail Town Guide. It does a superb job of laying out what to do to inject vitality into rural areas by building a rail trail.
For more details and up-to-the-minute efforts, click HERE.
A Timeline of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail
Trying to build a rail trail when the former railroad corridor is now owned by many people, businesses, towns, state and federal government agencies isn’t easy or quick. But a finished trail from Concord to Newbury through the town centers of Contoocook, Davisville, Warner, the edge of Sutton, Bradford and Newbury would be functional for local residents for commuting and recreation and a compelling destination for tourists.
October 2013 – One of the first things we did was take a look at how we might get from one side of Interstate 89 to the other in Warner. So we convened a site walk with members of New Hampshire Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Warner Conservation Commission, Warner Selectboard, New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission, Warner Parks & Recreation and others to walk from Bagley Field in Warner to the end of Waterloo St. The key purpose of that trip was to ask NHDOT if they would ever grant permission for trail projects within the Limited Access Right of Way of the Interstate. The NHDOT field review of that day is here. They essentially said it could be possible from their perspective to allow a properly engineered trail. Support letters came in from Simonds School, WYSA, Warner Energy Committee, Newbury Conservation Commission, Rural Heritage Connection of Bradford, City of Concord Conservation Commission.
The Town of Warner started applying for a grant on October 9th, 2013 to develop the first section of the rail trail at Bagley Field. The project and the grant application were mentioned in the Selectboard minutes of October 15, 2013. By November the grant request was moving forward: Final Active Transportation Grant Application.
2014 – April Tim Blagden appointed to Warner Parks & Rec Board.
The Warner Men’s Club had a presentation on the rail trail at their meeting in May.
By July of 2014 the Town of Warner was working on a Transportation Alternatives Program grant application to construct the rail trail by Exit 9. The Letter of Intent was due Aug 6th along with a concept image of the project, and an estimate of cost.
September saw the ribbon cutting of the first section of the trail at Bagley Field. The Nancy Sibley Wilkens Trust along with private donations and the Active Transportation grant from NH Heal provided the funding.
September also saw the Town of Warner apply for a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant to build trail on the east side of Interstate 89 by Exit 9. The Application, Project Image, Estimated Cost, Selectboard Support Letter, Warner Conservation Commission Support Letter, Safe Routes to School Travel Plan, Traffic Counts (2004-2013) Unfortunately, the town did not get the grant. TAP is a very competitive program. (But in December of 2022 the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail did get a grant for this Exit 9 project.)
Applied to Warner Fall Foliage Festival for support to extend the rail trail at Bagley.
Article for Town of Warner Newsletter.
October 31 – Assisted the Town of Warner in applying for a Brownfield Assessment grant on the NHDOT property at 32 Waterloo St. Sanborn Head Quote. Grant Award Letter. The intent was to see if the property was contaminated, and if not, see if NHDOT would declare it surplus. A portion of the property could become trailhead parking for the rail trail and a portion of the property could go back on the tax roles. We got the grant. The work was completed and the site “is essentially clean” as reflected in Selectboard minutes of 2016-10-25. Link to report. Related email requesting the town to act and reminding them of how long the Brownfield Assessment is useful.
October – Presentation to Hopkinton Rotary. FCLSRT has a booth at the Warner Fall Foliage Festival.
November – Tim Blagden appointed to NH Traffic Safety Commission by Governor Maggie Hassan.
June – Sally Metheany donates an easement over her property in Warner. She lives in the village and sees how people have a strong desire to walk in town.
FCLSRT applies to the NH Bureau of Trails for a Recreational Trail Program (RTP) Grant to build the Stevens Rail Trail project. Support letters from the Contoocook Snowmads.
FCLSRT partners with the Rural Heritage Connection of Bradford and the Lake Sunapee Snowmobile Club on a RTP application to construct the Tilley Wheeler project in Bradford which includes a new bridge over Lake Todd.
July – Site walk in Concord near Smokestack Center with Concord Conservation Commision, board members of Pierce Manse, PanAm Railroad representatives, and representatives from the Dept of Corrections. Looking at land owned by the railroad at the request of FCLSRT.
September – Rona Carr Bock donates the first easement to the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail. She’s a runner and has grandchildren who like the trail. Also in September the Warner Village Water District donates easements over two parcels they own in Warner. Map 30 Lot 53 and Map 34 Lot 26-3.
October – Just in time for the Warner Fall Foliage Festival the section of trail between Depot St and Joppa Rd was built. Huge thanks to Weaver Bros. Construction for an incredible effort on this section.
November – WECland LLC donates an easement over their land in Warner. This enabled us to take steps to start to develop the Stevens Rail Trail section.
December – Eagle Scout Brady Lombard signs on to build a kiosk by the rail trail near the Appleseed in Bradford.
March – Christine Westgate donates an easement on her property in Hopkinton. She said it made her feel like she had done her part to help the dream along.
April – Roy Deoss donates an easement on his property in Concord. He shared how he rides rail trails in Connecticut and sees what they mean to communities. He also gives us space for parking!
May – Jocelyn Jerry-Wolcott donates an easement on her property in Concord. She shares how her dad worked with Gov Rockefeller in NY conserving land and this was an opportunity to take a similar action in Concord NH.
June – FCLSRT signs a license agreement with the City of Concord granting FCLSRT the right to build and maintain rail trail over city owned parcels between Fisherville Rd and Carter Hill Rd.
October – Approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers is received which enables the Davisville end of the Stevens Rail Trail project to move forward.
November – Trail work day with volunteers placing wattle along the edge of the Davisville Section of the Stevens Rail Trail project.
December – Jean Whitman, Thomas Fredericks and Joseph Fredericks donate and easement over the railroad grade portion of their property in Warner. The same month Kristen Riley and Tim Blagden donate an easement on the railroad grade portion of property they owned. They also included an easement for parking and a connector trail to reach the railroad grade.
Contract signed with Hopkinton Forestry & Land Clearing to construct the Stevens Rail Trail project.
April – The Town of Warner donates an easement over the railroad grade portion of the parcel at Map 29 Lot 1.
April – NH Dept of Transportation sends the Town of Warner a letter with terms of the sale of Map 7 Lot 1 and the sliver of land that is part of the Interstate. FCLSRT agrees to pay for the required survey and the recording of the plan. FCLSRT also agrees to pay for the required Phase 1A Archeological Investigation. We also agree to pay for the required fence. And we agree to coordinate with NH Fish & Game non-game and endangered wildlife program.
June – FCLSRT applies for a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant to develop trail from Bagley Bridge to Exit 8. Unfortunately we are notified in September we are not awarded the grant.
August – The Phase 1A investigation of the NHDOT land between Bagley Bridge and Exit 8 concluded no further investigation was necessary.
Also in October the plan for the NHDOT sliver of I-89 land is recorded at the registry.
February – New Hampshire Department of Transportation sells to the Town of Warner Map 7 Lot 1 and a 2.09 acre section of the Interstate 89 Limited Access Right of Way. The state and Federal Highway actually changed 2000′ of the interstate boundary so we could build more rail trail.
June – John Canepa donates an easement over a parcel he owns in Warner. He hopes to see the trail get built. The same month the Town of Warner donates easements over parcel Map 7 Lot 2, Map 7 Lot 1, a 2.09 acre sliver of land next to Map 7 Lot 1 that was part of the I-89 Limited Access Right of Way, and a very thin sliver of land between Map 7 Lot 1 and the 2.09 acre piece. These easements are for the Bagley Bridge to Exit 8 project.
February – Cathy Consentino donates an easement over the railroad grade portion of her property in Warner. She says there’s an active trail near her home in Canada that means a lot to the community.
November – The Town of Warner donates an easement over the railroad grade portion of the parcel at Map 17 Lot 9.
More history coming. Check back.