By Alex Malm
For a number of recent Derry Town Council meetings, residents and supporters of the Derry Rail Trail have been urging the council help convince the state revert back to a plan that would construct a tunnel under the Exit 4A roadwsay for bikers and pedestrians.
The argument made by those in attendance during the Dec. 6 meeting was that there was orginally supposed to be a tunnel that would run under Exit 4A that has recently been removed from the plan by the NH Department of Transportation.
“For years, the NHDOT has proposed a bike-ped tunnel under the Exit 4A highway connector, which totally avoids traffic,” a Facebook post on the Derry Rail Trail Alliance page states.
Those who are advocating for the tunnel argued that the proposed alternatives to the tunnel are unsafe.
“This is about safety for us,” said Mark Connors, the President of the Derry Rail Trail Alliance.
It was also noted previously there are concerns because of the volume of economic development anticipated to occur where the alternative to the tunnel will be.
“That corner lot of North High and Rum Trail is going to be one of the most important areas for economic development,” said Connors.
Town Council Chairman, Joshua Bourdon, said the members of the Town Council have listened to what people have had to say regarding the issue.
“Throughout the past six months and certainly its elevated lately, we’ve seen and heard from a variety of constituents in Derry and across the state,” said Bourdon.
Bourdon said some of the testimony has been facts, some mistruths, and nearly “all of the testimony has been emotional.”
He said it’s an emotional topic and up until the meeting they continued to study the issue and due diligence to try to make the right decision for a recommendation to DOT.
“Frankly it’s not as easy as you all make it all out to be,” said Bourdon.
He stated Vice Chair, Erin Spencer, Town Manager, Dave Caron, representatives from DOT, and from the Rail Trail recently met.
Bourdon explained the Town Council would be taking a vote during their Dec. 20 meeting.
“It’s my decision that on Dec. 20 we will bring the vote before you to decide on what our final recommendation to the state will be. So on the 20th you’ll have your answer,” said Bourdon.
Bourdon said they need to make a decision, but didn’t promise how the recommendation would go one way or another.
Following the meeting, The Derry Rail Trail Alliance made one final pitch for people to advocate for the tunnel on Facebook.
“If you’ve not made your voice heard yet NOW is the time to call or email the councilors. Each one will have a vote next meeting,” the Facebook post reads.” We hope they all decide to vote unanimously for the tunnel. We hope they vote for Derry.”