Greenway poised for record New Hampshire growth following rail corridor acquisition

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CONCORD, N.H. – The state of New Hampshire agreed in mid-August 2019 to purchase 9.6 miles of unused seacoast railroad corridor to develop into a crucial piece of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, a multi-use trail stretching from Maine to Florida.

This major step forward could move New Hampshire from last place to first in terms of state completion of the East Coast Greenway.

Once completed, the New Hampshire Seacoast Greenway section will be a 17-mile off-road, multi-use greenway connecting seven communities from Portsmouth to Seabrook. It’s a key piece of the East Coast Greenway that plans to connect to Maine’s Eastern Trail in the north and the Old Eastern Marsh Trail and proposed Border-to-Boston Trail to the south, which would create a continuous, off-road stretch of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) agreed to purchase the abandoned Hampton Branch Railroad Corridor from New England-based Pan Am Railways, a successor to the Boston and Maine Corporation. 

“With this acquisition, New Hampshire is transforming an abandoned rail line into a public space for all its citizens to enjoy. Kudos to Governor Chris Sununu, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and all the local communities for making a sound investment in their future,” says East Coast Greenway Alliance Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano. “We look forward to working alongside the local municipalities as the greenway is constructed, and cannot wait for local greenway enthusiasts and long-distance riders to enjoy the trail following its completion.” 

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The envisioned East Coast Greenway route through New Hampshire following construction of the Seacoast Greenway.

“So many fellow New Hampshire residents have helped make the vision of the Seacoast Greenway a soon-to-be reality, and I’d like to thank each for their contributions, support, and advocacy,” says Bob Spiegelman, chair of the East Coast Greenway Board of Directors. “Among those deserving of special kudos are Scott Bogle of Rockingham Planning, who championed the greenway for a decade; Seth McNally, who led a local effort through the communities; former State Senator Nancy Stiles of Hampton, who has backed this concept for years; and Governor Sununu for making this project a priority. I look forward to celebrating at a future ribbon cutting.”

“This is a big milestone for the Greenway effort in New Hampshire. It brings the full length of the Hampton Branch into public ownership and sets the stage for construction of our first big stretch of trail from Hampton town center north to Portsmouth,” says Scott Bogle, Senior Transportation Planner with the Rockingham Planning Commission. “Getting to this point is the result of countless hours of work by volunteer trail committee members in each of the communities to plan and to build local support. This will be a terrific resource for the region, and we’re looking forward to working with NHDOT on the trail design process.”

“This rail corridor acquisition and the proposed Seacoast Greenway is hugely important to New Hampshire, all of New England and the East Coast Greenway as a whole,” says Kristine Keeney, the East Coast Greenway’s New England Coordinator. “A safe off-road, bicycle route from Boston to Portland, Maine, will soon be accessible to thousands and will become a driver for economic growth and a healthy, sustainable future for the region.”

More on the East Coast Greenway in New Hampshire

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