Planning Transportation, Recreation, and Natural Resource Protection Enhancements for Dover’s Future
Interested in the trail? Please come and join the Trail Advisory Committee on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, and contact Donna Benton for more information.
Since the mid-1990’s, the City of Dover has been actively planning and acquiring right-ofways for a Community Trail Project. The Dover Master Plan recommends a community trail to provide both recreation and alternative transportation opportunities for Dover’s citizens.
The trail follows a former railroad bed through much of the City and will provide public access to protected greenways along the Cochecho and Bellamy Rivers. Click here to view
The in-town section of the trail provides a pedestrian and bicycle friendly connection between downtown, (with a trailhead at the City’s Transportation Center) the Dover Middle and High School campuses and Bellamy Park.
Rural extensions of the trail will provide opportunities for bicycling, hiking, bird watching, and fishing where the trail follows the Cochecho and Bellamy Rivers. A portion of the trail will parallel Sixth Street providing an alternative transportation linkage to Liberty Mutual, Measured Progress, and other employment centers in the Enterprise Park
The first portion of the trail to be constructed connected the Dover Transportation Center (train station) to Fisher Street. Ultimately, this portion of the trail will connect through to Route 108 (Central Avenue/Durham Road) near the intersection with the Spaulding Turnpike. The trail follows the bed of the former Newington Branch railway between and parallel to Locust and Rutland Streets. Because this portion of the trail is close to neighborhoods on Belknap, Fisher, Cushing and Folsom Streets, the City organized a citizen’s advisory group to provide input on the design and use of the trail to lessen its impact on abutters.
Initial Funding for the Trail Project
A federal Transportation Enhancements grant was applied for in 1999 under the auspices of the City Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The project was approved for 80% federal funding in 2000, and a municipal agreement was signed on June 21, 2000 to manage, design and construct the first portion of the trail between the Transportation Center and Route 108.
Local match funding has been appropriated out of the TIP portion of the City’s Capital Improvements Program. The local match funding for the trail was from the City’s TIP revenue fund, based on fees collected from motor vehicle registrations, not from tax dollars. An additional source of money for land and right-of way acquisition was the Conservation Fund. Money in this fund comes from change of use penalties assessed to developers when they take undeveloped land out of the Current Use program.
Natural Resource Protection
Protecting natural habitat or greenways along the Cochecho and Bellamy Rivers has been a Dover Master Plan goal since the 1970’s. With the establishment of a Conservation Fund in 1999, the City of Dover provided a source of money to actively protect, either through purchase of land or development rights (through the use of conservation easements), land with significant natural resource value.
The Dover Conservation Commission and Open Lands Committee have focused their land protection efforts along the Bellamy and Cochecho Rivers. The Community Trail will provide public access to these greenways.
Portions of the greenway and the associated trail system, between Fourth Street and Watson Road have been either acquired by land purchase, negotiated with landowners, or are in the process of being formalized.
The Cochecho River Conservation Area, located along the northern side of the river between Whittier Street and Beckwith Park (off Hillside Drive), was purchased by the City with assistance from the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program. This area is now open to the public. For information about Dover’s land protection efforts, contact the Open Lands Committee, through the City Planning Department: 516-6008 or e-mail Open Lands Committee
The trail reached a milestone in 2011 with the ribbon cutting at the trailhead kiosk at the Transportation Center. At that point the majority of the trail was completed.
In late 2014 and early 2015 the City applied for a Transportation Alternaive Program grant from the State of New Hampshire Department Of Transportation. The goal of the grant was to complete the final portion of the trail, from Fisher Street to Central Avenue at the south end, and the connection between Downeast Energy to Beckwith park in the center portion. The City was awarded a $320,000 grant in mid-2015. Working with the Community Trail Advisory Committee, staff has retained an engineer to design the final elements. A feasability study has been completed and staff is working with NH DOT to move towards retaining a contractor to construct the expansion.
In 2016, staff applied for the next round of TAP funding to add further extensions to connect the trail from Rutland and Central Avenue to the Knox Marsh Road, through the Middle and High School complex and Bellamy Park.
View our Community Trail Guides for the following areas: