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Nature and Engineering

Dec 01, 2021   |   by Kathryn Lapierre   |   Dartmouth Engineer

For their capstone BE Design Sequence, students worked to complete a missing section of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail in Warner, New Hampshire.

Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail Bridge
Photo by Keoni Ocalvey.

Students considered cost, feasibility, and mitigation strategies to connect the trail with the natural environment. From left: Savannah Cochran ’23, Camile Pauley ’21, Tim Blagden from the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail, Lelia Mellen from the National Parks Service, and Chris Drake ’20 Th’21 (not pictured: Keoni Ocalvey ’20 Th’21, Evan Christo ’21, Andres Rosales ’20 Th’21).

Warner Rail Trail
Photo by Keoni Ocalvey.

The rail trail runs 34 miles across New Hampshire, beginning in Concord and passing through Hopkinton, Warner, Sutton, and Bradford before ending in Newbury at Lake Sunapee.

Warner Rail Trail Surveying
Photo by Keoni Ocalvey.

The group relied on communication with sponsors and outside resources, including surveying community members about their needs. “The project was a testament to how Thayer prepares its engineers for the multidisciplinary nature of many engineering projects in the real world,” says Ocalvey.

Warner Rail Trail measuring slopes
Photo by Keoni Ocalvey.

Cochran, left, and Pauley record distances and slopes along a steep drop to I-89. The section “crosses under highways, navigating steep topography and traversing floodplains without rail grade,” says Ocalvey. The group worked to make it wheelchair accessible and safely connect users with nature.

Multiuse Rail Trail
Photo by Keoni Ocalvey.

“The goal was to establish a challenging connection point along the multi-use biking and walking trail,” says Ocalvey. “It can also serve as a form of alternative transportation for local residents.”

—Kathryn Lapierre is editor of Dartmouth Engineer

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