Work begins on new pedestrian bridge in NashuaBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
September 09. 2018 11:06PM
NASHUA — The long-awaited construction of a pedestrian bridge connecting the Heritage Rail Trail and Mine Falls Park kicked off on Friday.
“We are very enthusiastic because it will be a very effective connection,” Mayor Jim Donchess said during the groundbreaking ceremony.
The project, which has been several years in the making, will connect two existing recreation trails in the heart of Nashua’s downtown area.
The new, paved path will extend from the Heritage Rail Trail, span about 450 feet along Everett Street, continue with a crosswalk over Ledge Street and then cross the Nashua Canal with a 90-foot prefabricated steel truss pedestrian bridge.
Once completed, the project will provide direct access from that area of downtown to the 325-acre Mine Falls Park recreation area.
While there have been some hurdles trying to get the project off the ground, Donchess praised those responsible for making it a reality.
“This truly has been a huge community effort,” said Sarah Marchant, the city’s community development director who was able to secure the funding for the project.
The city was previously awarded a $500,000 grant to construct the pathway and bridge over the canal. The federal grant, part of the Transportation Alternatives Program, requires a 20 percent match from the city, or $100,000.
Marchant said it is nice to finally see construction begin on the project, which is expected to take about 12 weeks to complete.
“By the end of November it should be opening,” she said.
Alderman Tom Lopez, Ward 4, praised the initiative, saying the expansion of the Heritage Rail Trail and easier access to Mine Falls Park will provide some city residents with the chance to enjoy more green space and the existing community gardens.
The city’s master plan, along with the 2012 Nashua Tree Streets Neighborhood Plan and the 2014 community Health Improvement Plan, all highlight the need to create pedestrian access across the Nashua Canal in an effort to encourage recreational opportunities for downtown neighborhoods.
The project includes an ADA compliant ramp from the Heritage Rail Trail to an at-grade path along the western side of Everett Street, the addition of a crosswalk across Ledge Street and lighted flashing crossing signals in addition to the pedestrian bridge, according to the plans.
The new bridge will be a steel truss bridge similar to the existing bridge at the 7th Street entrance to Mine Falls Park.