In 2006 the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County (FNRT or “we” in this note) received a $258,000 (since increased to $345,000) grant of federal funds under the Transportation Enhancement Program administer by NH Department of Transportation (NHDOT) to build 8.3 miles of trail from Potter Place in Andover north to the Danbury Town Garage. FNRT has already built eight miles south from Potter Place to Dyer’s Crossing in Andover and has a grant to build another two miles from Dyer’s Crossing to Webster Lake in West Franklin. Another rail trail group has built 25 miles of trail from Lebanon to the Danbury Town Garage. As a result, when this project is finished, there will be 43.3 miles of four-season trail from West Franklin to Lebanon – the longest four-season rail trail in New Hampshire.


Current Status.
The project is being constructed in two segments – installing bridge railings on six bridges in Danbury and then covering the existing stone ballast with 4” of stone dust.  


We are currently awaiting NHDOT approval to start design work on the bridge railings. A number of the bridges have no railings and for these VHB (FNRT’s engineers) will design the railings and the manner in which they tie to the bridge structures. In other cases, where the existing railings do not meet federal standards, we will supplement them with additional railings. We hope to have NHDOT’s approval in time to complete design work, award contracts, construct and install the bridge railings this fall. We need to have the bridgework done before we can lay down the stone dust.


We are working with VHB on a specification for the stone dust using the experience we have gained over five years of building trail in Andover. We plan to advertise for stone dust in the spring of ‘10 and purchase and apply it to the trail during the summer of ’10. If we follow this schedule our Danbury neighbors will see our grader and compacter preparing the trail in Danbury in the late spring of next year.


More Information
If you would like further information about this project, please contact FNRT’s project manager, Alex Bernhard at 603.735.5071 or at


Turnout Triples for Firecracker 5K
Ideal weather conditions greeted the 117 runners for the 2008 Andover Firecracker 5K road race on July 4.  The race, held on the rail trail and sponsored by the Andover Fourth of July Committee and the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County, started at the Blackwater Park at 9:00 AM.  Though most of the runners were from New Hampshire, runners from Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, New York, Massachusetts and Vermont also competed for prize money and the gold, silver, and bronze railroad spikes that were awarded to the top three finishers in each age group.  The race attracted a large number of young male and female runners, as 35 males and  females age 18 and under participated.  This year’s turnout nearly tripled the 44 runners who participated in last year’s event.