Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is the Merrimack River Greenway Trail? What will it look like?
It will serve both transportation and recreation purposes, connect villages, provide access to the Merrimack River and adjacent open space, and provide safe and inviting health and fitness opportunities. The trail will offer river views as well as river access when possible.
It will be similar to the Blackstone River Bikeway (Mass & Rhode Island), Windham Rail Trail (Windham, NH), the Nashua River Rail Trail (Nashua, NH to Ayer, MA) and the Cape Cod Rail Trail. It will be similar to the Concord bike path along Interstate 89, near Hopkinton and St. Paul’s School, except that the MRGT will be two feet wider and very scenic. And, you’ll hear the chirping of birds instead of the sound of passing trucks.
How long will it take to build it?
This project will clearly not be completed quickly. There are many T’s that will have to be crossed and I’s that will have to be dotted. Progress will greatly depend on available funding.
Where will the first leg of the trail be built?
The first leg of the trail has been completed! Yay!
Where did the idea for the trail come from?
Concord 2020 formulated 5 “Vision Principles” through an extensive public participation process that included hundreds of Concord residents. One of those principles is “Preservation and access to the natural environment.” Among the guidelines mentioned as consistent with that principle are:
In 2010, attendees at a public listening session for the “Bicycle Master Plan” (BMP) strongly suggested the City should plan to develop bike paths, including one along the Merrimack River.
Clearly, Concord residents want bike paths, walking trails and access to their river.
How much will it cost?
The cost estimate for the entire Merrimack River Greenway Trail was initially estimated to cost about $12-14 million. The total cost is now expected to be significantly less, due to the availability of the abandoned Pan Am rail corridor.
How will it be financed?
Who will maintain the trail?
Officially, the trail will be maintained by the City of Concord, but we hope to always have a large cadre of volunteers who will do the light maintenance that can be done by volunteers. Furthermore, we will try to establish a fund that would help provide continuing maintenance so that the trail will not be a burden on the City’s taxpayers.
Will anybody use it?
“Build it and they will come,” says a popular phrase from the movie “Field of Dreams.” Many trail advocates around the country report usage beyond their expectations almost as soon as trails are opened. It’s impossible to predict exactly how many people will use the MRGT. However, based on its location, close to a densely populated area, and using guidelines developed from experience with similar paved urban trails, we believe the trail will initially attract an average of about 400 visitors per day and up to a thousand on weekend days.
Why does it have to be paved?
History has shown that paved trails attract more users and a broader array of users than unpaved trails and that the additional users justify the additional cost of paving. A key purpose of the trail is to provide access to people of all ages and abilities and persons with mobility challenges. A paved trail accommodates wheelchairs more comfortably than an unpaved trail.
What’s the point in having a trail that goes from one end of the City to another?
One of the key features of the MRGT is that it will connect at each end to major trail efforts that are already underway.
To the south is the Salem to Concord Bikeway that is being planned and developed by volunteer and advocacy groups all along the way. A good example of what the MRGT will look like can be seen at the Windham Rail Trail, which is a part of the Salem to Concord Bikeway that was opened in 2006.
To the north, is the Northern Rail Trail, which is being developed by the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail. It is in a much more rural setting than Concord, so it is envisioned to be an unpaved but “hard pack” surfaced trail. There are currently about 57 miles of Northern Rail Trail opened to the public.
The MRGT will connect these two trails, providing a total 114-mile long trail that is almost entirely separated from motor vehicles, from Salem to Lebanon, called the Granite State Rail Trail. The GSRT will go through 19 towns and is being developed by nine nonprofit groups, working together for a common objective. (Links to other trail websites mentioned above are on the Links drop-down menu.)
Aren’t there obstacles to building in a sensitive watershed area like the Merrimack River?
There are, but they are not insurmountable. We have been and will continue to be working very closely with environmental and conservation agencies and organizations and we are looking forward to continued strong support from them.
Will horses be allowed on the trail?
The MRGT will be a busy urban trail with a paved surface, boardwalks and bridges. In most places, it will not be suitable for horses. Possibly, more rural sections could accommodate horses on gravel paths adjacent to the paved trail. Those decisions will be made by the City of Concord and will depend on availability of space and funding.
How can I help Friends of the MRGT raise money for the trail?
Friends of the MRGT
PO Box 954
Concord, NH, 03302
How else can I help?
You can volunteer your time.