SALEM — Community members, business leaders and town officials marked the completion of a section of the Salem Bike Ped Corridor with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning.
After two years of planning and construction, and $900,000 in spending, Phase 2 of the corridor — a 0.75-mile section from the Windham line to the Salem Depot — is complete.
David Topham, the co-chair of the Friends of the Salem Bike Ped Corridor said at the ribbon-cutting event that the paved rail trail extending from downtown Derry through Windham to the center of Salem is now 9.3 miles long.
Assistant Town Manager Andre Garron thanked all the volunteers and stakeholders who worked tirelessly in tandem with the town’s Community Development Coordinator Karri Makinen to make the completion of Phase 2 possible.
Garron said Town Manager Chris Dillon couldn’t make it to the event because he was busy finalizing the development deal between the town and Tuscan Village.
Garron said part of the project involved relocating a memorial honoring U.S. Army soldier Nicholas Arvanitis, with the blessing of the Arvanitis family.
Makinen presented a plaque to Larry Belair of the Friends of the Salem Bike Ped Corridor. The plaque featured an old rail spike that was found on the trail during construction.
“We look forward to continuing the trail south,” Makinen said.
She said a $20,000 grant from McKee Foods will help with continued improvements to the trail.
Donna Morris with the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce spoke at the event.
“I think Salem is the best-kept secret in New Hampshire and this makes it even greater,” Morris said.
Runners and hikers were seen using the trail during the ceremony.
Topham said he likes to point out all the lingering artifacts from the former railroad, such as the battery vaults and cement whistle markers.
“In 1951, I actually rode on a passenger train with my father on this very track,” Topham said.
The remaining phases of the rail trail will include a half-mile section from Main Street to the post office, and another three-quarters of a mile southward to the Exit 1 area. Topham said those sections will be built by Tuscan Village developers.
Then, a $868,000 federal grant awarded last fall will fund the trail crossing at Rockingham Boulevard to Clough Crossing Road, where the existing unpaved trail connects to Methuen, Mass.