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April 14. 2013 8:09PM

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Ashuelot Rail Trail project dedication upcoming in Swanzey


Swanzey is planning a dedication of the recently upgraded portion of the Ashuelot Rail Trail later this month. (COURTESY)

SWANZEY - Town officials are planning a dedication of the recently upgraded portion of the Ashuelot Rail Trail later this month.

The Rail Trail Dedication is planned for April 29 at 1 p.m. The ceremony will celebrate the competition of a $104,000 project in 2012 that upgraded 1.8 miles of the Ashuelot Line Rail Trail.

The project included drainage work, widening the trail bed and laying down the stone dust surface.

"Just makes a nice surface that people can hike, bike, walk, jog, ride horse back and during the winter of course snowmobiles can use the rail trail," project manager Bruce Bohannon said of the stone dust surface on Friday.

People are already using the trail, but this will mark the formal opening, Bohannon said.

The dedication ceremony has been organized to honor the people and groups that made the project happen, he said.

"Thank the people that have contributed to the project and make sure that everybody knows the trail is open for use," he said.

Individuals, civic organizations and private and corporate foundations funded the project, along with a $20,000 grant from the state of New Hampshire recreational trails program that also paid to repair the historic stone box culvert on the southwesterly portion of the trail.

The Swanzey Conservation Commission and Open Space Committee and the Keene State College Athletics Department also helped fund the project.

The work was conducted by Pat Rawson Construction, with the assistance of volunteers, who Bohannon coordinated.

Other project sponsors were East Hill Foundation, Kingsbury Fund, Putnam Foundation, Fenton Family Dealerships, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Markem-Imaje, Swanzey Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Keene.

This project was part two of an overall project to upgrade the trail, which runs from Keene to Winchester.

A 2.5-mile section running from Keene to Sawyers Crossing Road in Swanzey was upgraded two years ago. That project was funded by a federal Road Transportation Enhancement grant, Bohannon said.

Since that project was completed in 2011, use of the former rail road bed has quadrupled, he said. People are using the trail to walk their dogs or commute by bicycle into Keene, according to Bohannon.

Since the trail meets with Route 101 in Keene, what is needed now is a pedestrian bridge over Route 101 to safely get pedestrians and cyclists into the city from the trail, Bohannon said.

In Swanzey, now that everyone has seen what the volunteers and organizations can accomplish, Bohannon said he would like to see the Cheshire Rail Trail on the other side of town that runs through Swanzey from Keene to Fitzwilliam upgraded sometime in the next few years.

The dedication ceremony will take place at the north end of the trail segment off Sawyer's Crossing Road. Parking is available along Dartmouth Road and at the parking area west of the Cresson Covered Bridge.

In case of rain, the dedication will be moved to April 30. A cancelation notice will be posted on the town's website at town.swanzey.nh.us.

mpierce@newstote.com


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