Plans for NH-Boston bike trail advance

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Long-discussed plans to create a bike trail from the New Hampshire border in Salisbury to Danvers and perhaps on to Boston have made significant progress over the past year.

In January, a group including representatives from each of the eight communities that the bike trail would pass through issued a “Border to Boston Trail Implementation Plan.” Later that month, a meeting with Highway Commissioner Luisa Paiewonsky led to the creation of a state task force designed to make the 28-mile path a reality.

Salisbury and Newburyport have established agreements with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to lease what would constitute 4.9 miles of the trail, and in Newburyport construction is expected to begin next summer. The Massachusetts Highway Department, meanwhile, plans to hire a consultant to handle the design contract for much of the rest of the proposed path, which for the most part would follow abandoned railroad beds through Newbury, Georgetown, Boxford, Topsfield, Wenham and Danvers.

The project, first envisioned in 1994, received preliminary design funding as part of the 2005 federal transportation funding bill known as SAFETEA-LU. According to Bill Steelman, director of heritage development for the Essex National Heritage Commission, the initial design work is expected to be put out to bid by the end of 2008.

Newbury Town Planner Judy Tymon, the town’s representative on the Border to Boston planning group, said the trail would bring a number of benefits, including convenient access to a commuter rail station on the Newburyport line and a safe place for residents to walk.

Written by MMA Associate Editor Mitch Evich