Article By: Crystal Lee Cobb
A Local Concerns Meeting conducted by Hoyle, Tanner & Associates, INC., The City of Nashua’s Community Development and Parks and Recreation Division’s was held Wednesday of last week regarding a Heritage Rail Trail Connection to Mine Falls Park. The meeting took place at the Nashua Police Athletic League (PAL), and was open to the public.
The City of Nashua has been awarded along with 12 other New Hampshire communities a $500,000 federal grant from the Department of Transportation’s, Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). Nashua’s proposal was to build a bridge over the canal from Ledge street in the vicinity of Bright Spot Park and Everett street. The city has awarded 20% more city funds to the TAP funding for the project which is now undergoing research.
The United States Department of Transportation states, “TAP provides funding for programs and projects defined as transportation alternatives, including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, and environmental mitigation; recreational trail program projects; safe routes to school projects; and projects for planning, designing, or constructing boulevards and other roadways largely in the right-of-way of former Interstate System routes or other divided highways.”
Of nearly 50 applicants for TAP funding Nashua’s proposal to build a bridge across the canal from Ledge street into Mine Falls Park held highest ranking and it’s easy to see why.
A bridge downtown that goes right into Mine Falls is a huge benefit to families living in that area. Many downtown residents are dependent upon public transportation and the use of Heritage and Mine Falls trails. Connecting the two trails will make for more convenient and safe travel for sporting events, home, school, work and play.
Sarah Marchant, AICP Community Development Division Director for the City of Nashua informed, Nashua’s proposal was voted as the highest priority because of how strongly the bridge will impact the public demographic of the area as it will increase the publics chances of benefiting from the health and wellness activities Mine Falls Park can offer. Shaun Nelson who works in the area as the Executive Director for the Police Athletic League stated that he has spoken to local families and they are excitedly anticipating the more readily available access into Mine Falls.
Mine Falls runs along one of North America’s longest surviving power canals feeding the downtown mills, the canal and Millyard are well known as highlights of Nashua’s many historical attractions. Anyone visiting Nashua could easily enjoy shopping and dining on Main Street and a walk into the splendid walking/biking trails of Mine Falls Park, after the project is complete.
The next step for the proposed bridge is drafting preliminary ideas for bridge and cross walk design. At last week’s meeting a 10-foot-wide single-span pedestrian/bicycle bridge was suggested along with a brick style crosswalk with flashing beacons. The city anticipates a meeting to discuss designs further in December.
Also discussed at Wednesday’s meeting were some improvements to Heritage Trail, ADA certified ramps are to be put in along the pathway to Gate City Community Gardens and along Everett street at the grade paved trail. With the new developments to the park and trails there will be increased attention towards maintenance and clean up. The matter of clean-up is not a bridge to be crossed when we come to it. Gate City Garden knows this and has Volunteers in place to assist with maintenance and cleanup in addition to trail days regularly held for clean-up with Nashua’s Parks and recreation.