The Seacoast Rail Trail is moving forward with the goal to create a biking and walking trail that would connect eight communities from Portsmouth to Seabrook. The New Hampshire Executive Council approved a proposal for $5 million in federal funds to purchase 9.6 miles of abandoned railroad on Wednesday.
The Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the plan, already owns the southern section of the corridor. The total trail is expected to be 17 miles.
Juliet Walker, the Portsmouth Planning Director, said the project would boost the city’s tourism industry and increase the quality of life for residents.
“It’s another reason for people to want to visit our community,” said Walker. “[The trail] supports our ongoing tourism industry, but also provides a real amenity for our residents.”
She says the trail would also offer a safer option for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“We do have residential neighbors that have no safe way to get into the downtown other than Route 1,” said Walker. “It’s a nice alternative than going onto the more traveled roadways of the city.”
DOT plans to officially buy the portion of land from the Boston & Maine Corporation by early September. Officials will then move into the design stage of the project.