Rail-to-trail project moves forward
Track section slated to be removed in New London
By Robert Cloud
To qualify for a Community Development Block Grant, the city of New London must begin construction of the Newton Blackmour State Trail project before the end of 2021.
City Administrator Chad Hoerth provided an update on the trail at the Nov. 2 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee.
When completed, the trail will run 23 miles from New London to Seymour along a former railroad track.
Hoerth said city staff had been working with the state Department of Natural Resources, state Department of Transportation and an attorney regarding all the legal aspects of the trail.
“Our attorney is drafting information to present to Canadian National to begin the negotiation process for development of the trail,” Hoerth said in a memo to the committee.
Hoerth said the city must have some construction occur before Dec. 31 to qualify for a CDBG grant.
A project that could occur soon involves tearing out the tracks on New London’s east side portion of the trail.
The section is located approximately west of House Road to the end of Fairview Drive.
In order to meet legal requirements for posting bids for the work, Hoerth said they cannot wait until the December council meeting.
He suggested they have a special Parks and Recreation Committee and special city council meeting the week of Nov. 15.
Ald. John Faucher noted that when removal of the tracks for this section was discussed in 2014, the estimated salvage value of the rails was about $100,000.
Hoerth said the DNR owns the land where the tracks were laid and the city owns the tracks. Canadian National rents the rail right-of-way from the DNR.
Hoerth also noted that it may be in the city’s best interest to keep the tracks that run through the industrial park east of U.S. Highway 45 for future industrial development.