(See headings below for specific projects.)
Bagley Field & Bagley Bridge
Bagley Field was our first section of Rail Trail and continues to see daily use years after opening in 2014. That 1/2 mile section was lengthened to 8/10 of a mile in 2017 with a project that included the re-decking of a 100′ bridge over the Warner River. You will also find a Dero Fixit Station next to the Kiosk at Bagley. This includes a bike pump and tools to make basic adjustments to a bike.
Download this map of the Bagley Trail Segment.
Bagley Bridge to Exit 8
To extend the rail trail toward the village required gaining access to land that was in 2014 owned by New Hampshire Department of Transportation. It was purchased by NHDOT as part of the construction of I-89. The Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail worked with the Town of Warner to petition NHDOT and the Federal Highway Administration to declare the land surplus. This process concluded successfully in 2021 and once the land was in town ownership FCLSRT requested an easement from the town over the portion of the land that had the railroad grade. That request was granted. We now have the opportunity to develop another half mile of trail that leads to a beautiful view of the Warner River near I-89 Exit 8. We applied two years in a row for Recreational Trails Program funding and were not successful in getting the grant as these are very competitive and they prefer projects that complete connections. In 2023 we applied to Merrimack County for funding through a one time ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funded grant program. We received notice on 9/1/2023 we were awarded $74,311 for this project. This project leads up to the larger Exit 8 Project that will get the trail to the village. We will do what preparation work we can with volunteers and complete this work as soon as possible. People getting on I-89 at Exit 8 will see this project to the right of the highway between Exit 8 and Bagley Field.
The Exit 8 Project
Shown below as an orange line in the center of the image is the Exit 8 Project. (Just an approximation of where it may be.) Starting at the lower right corner of the picture, shown in blue, is part of the existing rail trail at Bagley Field and Bagley Bridge which were built in 2014 and 2017. Next the yellow line is the half mile extension project Bagley Bridge to Exit 8. Orange is the Exit 8 project. More on that in a moment. On the left edge of the picture in red is the 136 & 174 E Main Project.
If you look closely you see almost all of the Exit 8 Project is located in the median of I-89. There are many technical and environmental challenges. In October of 2013 we gathered a group of Federal Highway, NH Department of Transportation, Central NH Regional Planning, Warner Selectboard, Warner Conservation Commission and others to walk the route. We wanted to know if we could ever be given permission to put in a trail connecting Bagley Field to the village. That field report is available here.
In mid-2021 the Town of Warner applied to Senator Jeanne Shaheen for Congressionally Directed Spending for this project and several others in town including the Exit 9 rail trail project. None of these requests made it into the final fiscal 2022 federal appropriations bill.
In January of 2023 The Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail and the Town of Warner applied to New Hampshire Department of Transportation for a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ ) grant to help fund this project. As of early December 2023 this project is on the list of projects to receive federal funding. The NHDOT project number is 44356. The partnership calls for the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail to raise the matching funds for the project while the Town of Warner would manage the project.
The final Ten Year Plan will be signed in the June/July of 2024 timeframe. If the project is in the final plan, NH Department of Transportation sends a municipal agreement to the town. If the town moves forward with the project it could start the process in November/December of 2024 (which is as early as the fiscal 2025 projects can commence in practical terms. Fiscal 2025 starts Oct 1, 2024.)
136 & 174 East Main
The town owned parcel at 136 East Main (Map 29 Lot 1) contains railroad grade. It is also of interest to Warner Parks & Recreation and to the Warner Village Water District. In April of 2019 the Town of Warner granted an easement to the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail over the railroad grade portion of the lot. This enables future rail trail development.
The owners of the lot abutting to the east of the town owned lot, 174 East Main, granted an easement to the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail to build and maintain a trail on the former railroad grade and space for parking next to Route 103 along with a path down to the railroad grade. This parcel borders Interstate 89 at a location where The Exit 8 Project may link the trail at Bagley Fields with the trail in the village. The 174 E Main property has since been sold to the Warner Village Water District, but the easements remain for the rail trail.
The Water District plans some work on these parcels and once that work is done the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail will construct rail trail over these parcels and put in the parking facility and connector trail.
Warner Story Walk on the Depot St to Joppa Rd section.
Download this map of the trail in downtown Warner!
For the latest Pillsbury Library News for kids see this page at the Pillsbury Free Library Website. The book on the Story Walk is changed every month. Always a fun read!
This section of trail was completed with significant help from Weaver Brothers Construction just in time for the Warner Fall Foliage Festival in October of 2017. Easements over two privately owned parcels and a parcel owned by the Warner Village Water District made this project possible.
In the summer of 2018, Eagle Scout Alex Swanson approached the Pillsubry Free Library to ask if they would welcome a story walk starting at the library and extending along the rail trail from Depot St toward the covered bridge at Joppa Rd. Alex rose to the challenge of working with the Library, the board of Jim Mitchell Park, and the board of the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail so the project would be in just the right locations. The walk opened October 5th, 2018 with a large crowd of attendees of all ages joining Alex and team for a Flashlight Night walk led by local author Matt Forrest Esenwine.
In February, the story walk shifted to a Winter theme with the addition of Deborah Bruss’s, Good Morning, Snowplow!
The library continues to update the story each month with stories tied into the seasons and events. Check out the trail to see the latest stories from our local and beloved authors.
The Exit 9 Project
The town’s first attempt to construct the rail trail near Exit 9 was in 2014. The town applied for a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Grant.
Regrettably the town’s 2014 application was not awarded funding. In 2016 TAP was offered again, but the town did not apply. For the 2018 TAP round the town tried a different approach to link the village with businesses at Exit 9. They submitted a plan for a multi-use path along Rt 103.
That attempt also failed on a technicality, a person missed a required meeting so the application was not evaluated. But once again the town applied for TAP funding in 2021. Again it was for the multiuse path along Rt 103. And this time it was awarded funding by the state. However, the town has not yet approved to appropriate the matching funds.
In April of 2022 an opportunity presented itself to apply for Congressionally Directed Funding to build a project that would create trail connecting the eastern end of Waterloo St (just west of I-89 by Exit 9) to the businesses located near the Barbara Annis Roundabout (just east of I-89 Exit 9) and also create a bridge over the Warner River so the rail trail could run down the old right of way to the village. In late December 2022 we were awarded the grant! ** $1,203,000 in federal funding was included in the Omnibus bill at the end of 2022! See page 32 here. ** The project was discussed at a Warner Selectboard meeting on 1/31/2023. This was followed by a public hearing on March 7th. (Meeting minutes ) The topic was discussed again with the Selectboard on August 15th. And the town signed the sub agreement with the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Tail at the Sept 5th Selectboard Meeting. The project has been added to the 2023-2026 NH Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan. (See project number 44161 on page 109) With the sub-agreement signed the Town was able to sign an agreement with NH Department of Transportation to begin the project.
The LPA Process: NHDOT has a process for locally managed projects. Its called Local Public Agency or LPA. The Exit 9 project is an LPA process project. You can read about it here. NHDOT has a presentation that makes it possible to follow along with the process. Intro. Administration. QBS. Engineering Study. Preliminary Design. Final Design. Bid Phase. OIG Fraud. Construction Part 1. Construction Part 2. LPA Handouts 297 pages.
Requests for Qualifications were solicited from consultants during October of 2023. Six firms responded. A committee consisting of Selectman Allan Brown, Finance Director Clyde Carson, DPW Director Tim Allen, and FCLSRT board member Tim Blagden reviewed the qualifications. We are currently ranking those firms and reporting to NHDOT. Soon we hope to have authorization from NHDOT to proceed with negotiations of scope and fee for the consultant. If those are successful then the project can actually begin preliminary design. This will kick off a number of public hearings and planning sessions. The Exit 9 project itself is well under a mile, but the connections it makes enable people to use miles of lower stress roads to reach a lot of places people want to get to for work, necessities, or fun. Here’s a video discussing the project.
Its very important to understand the above image describes the Exit 9 project in general terms. In general terms it hopes to create a safe accessible trail in the state right-of-way from the end of Waterloo St to the roundabout and include a bridge over the Warner River which will link to additional easements extending toward the village.
The orange in the picture above shows again the goals of the Exit 9 project. Use Waterloo St (instead of being on Route 103) to get under Interstate 89. Then have a trail spur to reach the businesses at the Intervale area of Warner. Also have a bridge over the Warner River. Shown in lighter yellow color is the old railroad grade. The Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail have an easement over the portion of this that is outside of the NHDOT Limited Access Right-of-Way. That would make a connection with Willy Lane. From there using Willy Lane and Chemical Road and Depot St will bring you to downtown Warner and the Story Walk section of the rail trail.
Many people who are considering making a trip by bike think about the portion of the trip that scares them the most. If the perceived risk is too great they will either do the trip another way (in a car) or cancel the trip. This Exit 9 project directly addresses the highest traffic stress portion of the journey for people currently trying to reach the Intervale by bike. People who live on all those side roads in blue on the picture may be a lot more inclined to bike to the Intervale businesses and downtown businesses if this project materializes.
The image above(created using photoshop to insert the pedestrian bridge and trail) is looking west from a spot on the Warner River just downstream of where Stevens Brook joins the river. You see the I-89 northbound bridge in the background. A pedestrian/bicyclist bridge is shown just downstream from the highway. Trail to downtown Warner village would be on the left. Trail to Waterloo street would pass under the highway from the righthand end of the pedestrian bridge. A spur trail heads toward Rt 103. Just out of sight it would turn right, cross over Stevens Brook, and bring you to the roundabout where there are existing sidewalks, a crosswalk, and a section of multiuse path.
For additional information, download the 2009 Safe Routes to School Travel Plan prepared by Central NH Regional Planning. Almost all of the issues highlighted in that plan are still relevant today.
Other Warner Projects
We continue to talk with the private landowners who own much of the former railroad grade. Its their land and we support their right to do what they want with their property. (We really mean that!) As we have additional projects to announce we will add them.