SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

November 19, 2010

Rail-trail work to pick up steam in December

DANVERS — Work to complete a major stretch of the Danvers Rail Trail should really get moving next month, Rail Trail Advisory Committee members and representatives of the Iron Horse Preservation Society said last night.

"Everything is happening in the first week of December," said Dan Curtis, who heads up the outreach subcommittee of the Danvers Rail Trail Advisory Committee.

Curtis is part of a nine-member committee that has been working to create a 4.3-mile trail for walking, jogging and biking from Peabody to Wenham. The town has a 99-year lease agreement with the MBTA to allow for the creation of the corridor for passive recreation on an unused section of railroad.

The work to rip up rails began this past spring, but the best-laid plans of Iron Horse to get the trail finished by the summer went astray, after a series of logistical snags. Iron Horse is a Nevada-based nonprofit that specializes in building rail trails and preserving railroad corridors, and building the trails at no cost to communities.

So far, Iron Horse has removed all the rail, giving the surface a rough grade; removed rail from street crossings; and worked to remove stacks of ties. The ties must come out before the trail work can begin in earnest, to prevent the finished surface from being torn up by trucks loaded with ties.

"We are moving out one more truck tomorrow and two more Monday," said Joe Hattrup, the chief operating officer of Iron Horse.

The best-case scenario is that three miles of the trail will be completed in the first week of December.

Last night, Hattrup described the plans to about 45 residents who turned up for a meeting in the Senior Center on Stone Street. Iron Horse plans to compact the trail's surface and then put down a layer of gravel. The rock has chunks that are bigger than stone dust, but not as large as the ballast that the ties used to sit on.

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