By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Since work began earlier this month, the entire length of the second phase of the Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam (WOW) Trail has been grubbed, leaving a strip some 5,000 feet long cleared of topsoil and brush from New Salem Street to the Belmont town line.
The trail runs alongside the railway for virtually its entire length. After swinging around a pair of historic railway sheds between New Salem Street and Water Street, it crosses the property at the corner of Water Street and Fair Street that last housed The Citizen newspaper to join the Fair Street Bridge. Crossing the bridge, the trail rejoins the railway, crosses Bay Street and runs past the foot of Keasor Court toward Bartlett Beach, where a boardwalk will carry it over a wetland. Then a bridge will take the trail over Durkee Brook from where it will parallel the railroad track and Court Street to join the Belmont Recreation Trail, which runs between Us Route 3 and Lake Winnisquam for 1.8 miles nearly to Mosquito Bridge. With the completion of the second phase, there will be 4 miles of walking and biking trail between Lakeport and the Mosquito Bridge in Belmont.
Now that the path is cleared, Allan Beetle said a sub-base will laid and the trail paved with asphalt. At the same time, the boardwalk and bridge remain to be constructed and drainage must be installed at several places. He said that although the trail will be 10 feet wide for virtually its whole length, there may be spots where it narrows to 8 feet to accommodate abutting properties, one of which encroaches into the railroad right-of-way where the trail is built.
John H. Lyman & Sons Inc. of Gilford is constructing the trail after submitting a winning bid of $876,000 for the project, which is expected to be completed in October.
The WOW Trail skirts two ramshackle sheds, which the New Hampshire Bureau of Rails deemed historic and required by preserved. Denise Littlefield, who succeeded her late father Lionel Labonte as the owner of Stratham Tire, donated a portion of the abutting property to swing the trail past the sheds. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
The WOW Trail passes the southern end of Bartlett Beach then continues along the shore of Lake Winnisquam to offer expansive views of the lake. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)Trail
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