New Bridge: Groundbreaking ceremony conducted

Staff photo by Adam Urquhart Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, Alderman Tom Lopez and NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire Executive Director Robert Tourigny join others in placing shovels into the soil during a Friday groundbreaking ceremony for a new pedestrian bridge that will connect the Tree Streets neighborhood to Mine Falls Park.

NASHUA – City officials are connecting urban neighborhoods to Mine Falls Park with a new pedestrian bridge over the Nashua Canal at the corner of Everett and Ledge streets.

Through a community effort, city officials broke ground Friday morning during a brief gathering at the site to kick off the construction project, which will be performed by George R. Cairns & Sons Inc. The engineer is Sean James of Hoyle, Tanner & Associates Inc.

“We are very enthusiastic because it will be a very effective connection between our Tree Streets neighborhood, where we have a lot of people who enjoy Mine Falls Park, to be able to walk easily and cross over into one of our two most spectacular parks,” Mayor Jim Donchess said.

Community Development Director Sarah Marchant said this project consists of more than just the bridge. It will also feature a ramp/walkway to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This will connect the Heritage Rail Trail to Everett Street, and a crosswalk from Everett Street to where the bridge will be located. She said there will also be flashing beacons to make sure motorists slow down a bit. Additionally, there will be a bike/pedestrian lane west of Everett Street lighted crosswalk on Ledge Street.

“We’re really excited to see this finally get kicked off. It’s been a long road,” Marchant said.

The project is expected to take 12 weeks and be completed and ready to use by the end of November.

NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire Executive Director Robert Tourigny said initially, there was some resistance to connecting the neighborhood to Mine Falls Park with the bridge.

“We just reached out to folks in the neighborhood and asked them how important it would be to have a connection to the park, and were able to bring people to the public hearing to express their support for connecting the neighborhood to the park, as opposed to keeping it separated,” Tourigny said. “So, we were happy to help with that role and glad to finally see this come to fruition.”

Ward 4 City Alderman Tom Lopez said the rail trail is utilized regularly by many people, not just for recreation, but also for their daily transportation. This involves getting to and from work and going shopping.

He said there are several amenities along the rail trail that have been installed during the years, largely through partnerships with the city, Nashua Police Athletic League (PAL) and Great American Downtown.

“One of them is the Gate City Community Gardens right at the head of the trail here,” Lopez said. “It’s a great site — it’s a great facility. It’s a great opportunity for people living in an urban neighborhood to grow fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and that kind of stuff. So, this is all very helpful to creating a larger initiative so that kids growing up in the city can experience green spaces like Mine Falls; can see gardens every day when they’re walking to and from — and to kind of make the whole city more liveable for many people.”

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.