RAISE Manchester: ‘Central Manchester Rail Trail’ design updates exclude Elm-Willow streets connector

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!

unnamed 1
The city of Manchester has updated its plans to build 0.68 miles of newly paved rail trail called Central Manchester Rail Trail running northerly along the abandoned rail bed from where the South Manchester Rail Trail terminates at Queen City Avenue. The new design will offer easier access for pedestrians and bicyclists from Elm Street and Willow Street, with a raised bed and a more gradual slope from the streets. Pictured here is a rendering of a new rail trail facing south to Queen City Avenue.

MANCHESTER, NH – The city of Manchester has updated its plans to build 0.68 miles of newly paved rail trail running northerly along the abandoned rail bed from where the South Manchester Rail Trail terminates at Queen City Avenue. The new design will offer easier access for pedestrians and bicyclists from Elm and Willow streets, with a raised bed and a more gradual slope from the streets.

Additionally, the city has decided not to move forward with plans to build a previously proposed roadway connecting Elm Street to Willow Street, called Gas Street Extension. Both were originally-proposed components of the federally-funded RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities transportation infrastructure improvement project.
The city is also unveiling a new name for the trail: Central Manchester Rail Trail. The name reflects not only its relatively central location in the city, the trail will also serve as a central intersection to some of New Hampshire’s longest rail trails, such as the southern half of the Granite State Rail Trail, the east-west Rockingham Recreational Trail and Piscataquog Rail Trail. Construction projects to extend some of these trails are already underway.
“The Central Manchester Rail Trail along with other components of the RAISE Manchester project align with the city’s commitment to foster multi-modal transportation options and pedestrian-friendly connectivity, particularly for the neighborhoods where residents have the fewest vehicles and transportation options,” said RAISE Manchester Project Manager Kristen Clarke, PE, PTOE, traffic engineer for the Manchester Department of Public Works. “This project not only creates a vital link between disconnected areas of the city, it also contributes to the broader network of rail trails across New Hampshire, offering residents and visitors alike an opportunity to explore our beautiful state while promoting active lifestyles.”
The city had originally included in its RAISE grant application – and initial designs – plans to build the Gas Street Extension roadway to be located immediately south of the Factory on Willow building, which also featured a roughly 70-foot bridge for motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic over the rail trail. These plans were presented to the public in December 2022 and subsequent outreach efforts with city residents. The city ultimately decided to remove this element from the grant project due to financial considerations, the discovery of poor soil conditions and property impacts. However, this does not preclude a future vehicular connection somewhere between Elm Street and Willow Street if there is available funding and community support.
unnamed 4
The city of Manchester has updated its plans to build 0.68 miles of newly paved rail trail running northerly along the abandoned rail bed from where the South Manchester Rail Trail terminates at Queen City Avenue. Additionally, the city has decided not to move forward with plans to build a previously proposed roadway connecting Elm Street to Willow Street, called Gas Street Extension. Both were originally-proposed components of the federally-funded RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities transportation infrastructure improvement project.

The Central Manchester Rail Trail provides the following benefits:

  • Constructs an additional 0.68 miles of the Granite State Rail Trail that, when complete, will connect Lebanon to Salem across approximately 120 miles
  • Creates first-ever pedestrian and bicycle connection between north and south sections of the Central Business District
  • Paves path for pedestrians and bicyclists with access to adjacent parcels and connectivity to existing and future rail trails
  • Builds closest pedestrian trail to the Manchester neighborhoods with the lowest vehicles per capita
  • Cleans up and completes a refuse-ridden and overgrown section of abandoned rail, which has become a hidden zone of undesirable behavior
  • Improves traffic flow with adaptive traffic signal control and enhanced detection at five traffic signals on Elm Street
Additional updates will be shared as the project makes its way through the city, state and federal approval process.
DSC 3143 scaled
A map of all four original RAISE Grant elements. The city has eliminated the Gas Street Extension from the plan.

For more information about the RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities project, visit www.raisemanchester.org.

Subscribe Now and Never Miss Another Thing!

About this Author

Press Release

Manchester Ink Link

Your news, your way. We welcome business press releases for publication as a paid feature. Learn more here, or contact Carol Robidoux at publisher@manchesterinklink.com.