The Institute for Community Environment Management published a report in 1994 recommending the creation of a network of trails within the City of Keene. It stated: “Bike paths offer multiple benefits to a community and, in fact, are often cited as a key element of successful cities …”
That report established the vision and became the catalyst for the alternate transportation revolution within the City of Keene. The report evolved into City of Keene Bicycle/Pedestrian Pathways Master Plan.
To form the backbone of a safe alternative transportation system in Keene, the plan utilizes the abandoned railroad ROWs (Rights of Way) and in so doing places Keene at the intersection of a trail system that extends:
South to Swanzey, Winchester, and Hinsdale.
East towards Marlboro splitting and heading towards both Harrisville and Jaffrey.
West towards Westmoreland and Walpole.
The Roundhouse-T will finish the “T-shaped” intersection to finally connect these major east-west and south routes.
Without the Roundhouse-T runners, cyclists, and other pedestrians are forced to continue using the automobile congested streets to traverse the center of the city. Many people feel there is too high a risk in doing so and simply do not use the current facilities. Removing this obstacle will result in an immediate surge of trail usage throughout the city.
The master plan describes a dream for a safe alternative east-west and north-south transportation system within the City of Keene.
The Roundhouse-T makes that dream a reality.
Roundhouse-T will connect two existing sections of the Downtown Cheshire Branch Trail to the existing Ashuelot River Trail (see Project Area Map).
This will provide a continuous alternative east-west path:
From Eastern Avenue through the center of Keene to the intersection of Routes 9/10/12 and West Street.
Using the Keene Industrial Heritage Trail, the Downtown Cheshire Branch Trail, the Roundhouse-T, and then the Downtown Cheshire Branch Trail again.
It will also provide a continuous alternative north-south path:
From Wheelock Park through the center of Keene to Route 12.
Using the Appel Way Trail, the Ashuelot River Park Trail, the Roundhouse-T, and the South Ashuelot Rail Trail.
The majority of the trails in both of these routes already exist and are in constant use today. Only the Roundhouse-T remains.
The Ashuelot River Park Trail was completed in the late 1970’s.
The Appel Way Trail was completed in the late 1970’s.
The western and the eastern sections of the Downtown Cheshire Branch Trail were completed in 1998.
The Keene Industrial Heritage Trail, between Main Street and Eastern Avenue, was completed in 2002.
Goals and Objectives
The Roundhouse-T is the “lynch pin” of the trail system within the City of Keene and its goals and objectives are identical to those of the trail system as a whole:
Alleviate city traffic.
Reconnect more people in our region who will meet while enjoying the trail system
Promote health and fitness
Improve safety of pedestrians, cyclists, runners
Promote appreciation of our historical and cultural heritage, as well as our natural environment
Promote recreational opportunities for users of all ages and physical abilities
Providing alternative routes to and from places of work, schools, recreation and shopping
Improve air quality by reducing exhaust emissions from vehicular traffic
Reduce fossil fuel consumption
When completed, the Roundhouse-T will serve as the primary alternative transportation routes within the central core of Keene for runners, cyclists, walkers, the physically challenged, parents with strollers, and for other forms of pedestrian transportation.
The creation of a dedicated pathway system will serve the interests of Keene residents by making biking an attractive option for residents, shoppers, and employees, thereby decreasing automobile use and relieving traffic congestion and noise, providing for inexpensive non-polluting transportation, reducing parking requirements, minimizing air pollution and by providing an alternative to walking or cycling on congested streets and sidewalks. It will also ensure the safety of children, college students, disabled citizens and others who are unable or do not wish to drive.
The planning for the Roundhouse-T is complete. The remaining tasks are engineering, environmental mitigation, construction, mobilization, field office, traffic control, and landscaping.
The Roundhouse-T is a 0.64 mile (3,430 feet) long, 8 to 10 feet wide, paved bicycle/pedestrian path that links the central core of Keene to the previously funded Downtown Cheshire Branch Trail (Phase A1), the Keene Industrial Heritage Trail (Phase A2), and the Ashuelot Rail Trail (Phase C2).
The path starts at the Gilbo Avenue/School Street intersection and travels south along the right-of-way of the west side of School Street to Emerald Street a distance of 400 feet. The path continues west from School Street along the north side of Emerald Street a total distance of 1,200 feet to the end of Emerald Street at the PSNH (Public Service of New Hampshire) switch building. At the intersection of Emerald and the old railroad right-of-way, the path splits in two.
One path continues west across property owned by PSNH to Island Street a distance of 380 feet. It then runs north a distance of 450 feet along the east side of Island Street to a point directly across from the City-owned Downtown Cheshire Branch trail bed corridor.
The other path crosses Emerald Street at a point directly across from the State-owned Ashuelot rail bed corridor. It then travels directly south along the Ashuelot rail bed corridor until it reaches Winchester Street a distance of 1,000 feet.
Once completed, the City of Keene Parks and Recreation Department will continue their stewardship of the trail system. PAthways for Keene will support their activities and focus community energies towards and awareness and appreciation of the trail system with programs such as the existing Adopt-a-Park program. Local organizations will provide distance markers on the trail system, and provide conservation of select sections of the trail.
The City of Keene submitted an “Application for Transportation Enhancement Funding” to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation for construction of the Roundhouse-T trail segment.
This proposed project and its budget were approved for implementation by the State of New Hampshire. This approved budget is:
Environmental Mitigation (Contamination) $25,000.00
ROW (Right of Way) Title Search and Abstracting $5,000.00
Construction Engineering $39,000.00
School Street (Gilbo Ave. to Emerald St.) $14,554.40
Emerald Street (Center of Keene) $158,579.00
End of Emerald Street (Keene Gas and PSNH Property) $11,876.90
PSNH Property/Mill Creek Crossing) $36,418.40
Island Street (PSNH to Cheshire Branch Rail ROW) $19,021.40
Ashuelot Trail ROW (Emerald St. to Winchester St.) $27,262.40
Construction Subtotal $267,712.50
Field Office $12,000.00
Traffic Control $20,000.00
Contingency (10%) (landscaping, drainage, utilities, etc.) $27,000.00
State of New Hampshire (80%) $384,570.00
Local City of Keene (20%) $96,142.50
Project Area Map
Roundhouse-T Project Area (Click on image to Enlarge)