Bike Group Propose a New Rail Trail in Manchester, New Hampshire
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.
A Manchester, New Hampshire, man is on a mission to provide safe transportation for kids (and adults) who love to ride bicycles.
Jason Soukup is an avid bicyclist and parent of three, and is working with other parents and volunteer adults to supervise about 10 neighborhood kids biking from the North End down Elm Street to Mt. Zion Christian School on Titus Avenue, according to a Manchester Ink Link article.
The children wear protective and safety gear; however, there are much bigger safety concerns coming from parents, with Soukup leading the charge.
There are currently bike lanes on Elm Street in Manchester, but Soukup and others are not finding them safe enough, and for good reason, too. I would be very uncomfortable as a parent with my child being so close to traffic in downtown Manchester.
This is how it looks now.
“We want to be active. We don’t want to use our cars,” Soukup said to Manchester Ink Link. “We’re using what’s there, but it’s not optimal for us and it’s not optimal for cars.”
According to Soukup, creating about a four-mile stretch of rail-trail alongside an active train line that runs north to Concord would connect downtown Manchester to the Southern New Hampshire University campus, which would be a better solution according to Ink Link.
In order to make this rail trail that Soukup envisions, the first step would be "to make a deal with the incoming new owners of the active rail line (CSX is buying Pan Am Railway) to get permission to use their land to build what is known as a “Rail with Trail,” according to Manchester Ink Link.
Today, most rail trails are paved over an old or non-functioning railway. Since the railway track that Soukup envisions the bike path running alongside of is currently active, the bike path would need to be about 15 feet away and have a fence in between.
Rail trail projects are generally about $1 million per mile to build. However, Soukup thinks funding the project will be the easiest part. As of today, no preliminary engineering has been done to estimate what the 30 miles of trials inside Manchester, Hooksett, Bow, and Concord would cost.
"If that section is completed, it would mark a significant milestone for the state’s rail-trail networks by linking the north and south sections of the 125-mile Granite State Rail Trail," according to Manchester Ink Link. "The northern sections run from the Vermont border in Lebanon to Concord, while the southern sections will extend from the Manchester Boston Regional Airport down to Salem’s border with Methuen, Massachusetts (where the rail trail continues)."
To the Soukup family and everyone involved in Manchester Movers, keep on keeping on. I love this idea. A safer, greener way to travel is not something of the future, but should be something that exists now.
Let's make it happen New Hampshire.