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April 29. 2014 7:42PM

$90k donation moves Salem bike path closer to reality

SALEM — A town bicycle and pedestrian path is one step closer to becoming a reality.

On Monday night, selectmen accepted a $90,000 donation toward the proposed $1.1 million project from the Friends of the Salem Bike/Ped Corridor. The group has been raising the money that will be used to pay for the town’s 25 percent portion of the cost of the project.

“This is the next payment of the 25 percent transportation enhancement match we have to come up with,” said Friends member David Topham. “The total amount will be on the table and in the hands of the town of Salem by the end of July. July 28 is the target date for that.”

The nearly $1.1 million project would be paid for through a federal grant in conjunction with local matching funds raised by the Friends of the Salem Bike/Ped corridor. Salem will administer the project under the oversight of the state’s transportation department.

The local match portion of the project is approximately $229,000, according to Town Manager Keith Hickey.

Earlier this month, selectmen approved extending the deadline to raise those matching funds to the end of July.

He said the bike path group is trying to get matching state tax credits for the donations and will not get that approval until early July.

Selectman Everett McBride thanked Topham and Friends member Linda Harvey for the hard work the group has done in making the bike and pedestrian path a reality.

Earlier this winter, Greg Backus of VHB Engineering presented selectmen with several alternatives for the bike path. The board unanimously backed a plan that will run along the Route 28 corridor rail bed from the Windham line and across the intersection at Range Road.

The project will include an improved pedestrian crossing at Range Road.

From there, the path will continue on the side of the rail bed away from Route 28 for a portion of the way to the Old Rockingham Road intersection.

Backus recommended that alternative because a portion of the rail bed is unusable because of wetlands. Once past the wetlands, the path could once again be built along the rail bed.

Depending upon available funds, the path could continue to the Main Street intersection.

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