Lawrence, Methuen Take Peek at Rail Trail Plans Wednesday

Methuen Train Depot, Railroad Ave, Methuen. (Creative Commons.)

It’s been more than 100 years since freight railroads ran along the Lawrence-Manchester, N.H., rail corridor. In the name of economic development and open space, a group serving Lawrence and Methuen are looking to turn the former rail beds into open space and walking paths.

A community meeting takes place Wednesday night, 6 p.m., at the El Hefni center at Northern Essex Community College, Lawrence, to focus on the final stages of a planning process to investigate redevelopment options. The proposed Lawrence rail trail would run about a mile and a half through Lawrence and into Methuen, crossing the Merrimack River. If constructed, it would provide pedestrian access to locations along the Merrimack and in downtown Lawrence.  Plans also call for historic points along the path be highlighted, including locations of former train stops in North Lawrence and Methuen.

A feasibility study was provided by the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission back in 2011 as part of a 2009 priority growth strategy project spearheaded by community groups in Lawrence and Methuen.

The former rail line once made stops in Salem, N.H., including Canobie Lake.