SALISBURY — Originally planned to make it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross busy Route 1, the Rail Trail Connector ended up turning a previously unused and unsightly area under the Gillis Bridge into a glimpse of Salisbury history, while providing a riverside oasis for those traveling between Newburyport’s Clipper City to Salisbury’s Eastern Marsh rail trails.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Salisbury will celebrate that transition with an Art Stroll and festivities that show off the Rail Trail Connector and its custom-painted murals along the abutments under the Gillis Bridge. At noon regional mural artists Jim Angelone, Raymond Guertin, Edith Heyck, Debi Libuda, Stephanie Noah, Peggy Omer and Claudia Owens will be recognized with a formal ceremony, according to Salisbury Planning Director Lisa Pearson.
The murals, themed to depict historical and cultural features of Salisbury, showcase the town’s architecture, beach scenes, expansive salt marsh, farming and fishing heritages. Permanently affixed on the concrete and made with weather tolerant materials, they’ll welcome visitors for years to come.
But Saturday’s celebration also offers the Salisbury Art Stroll, featuring other artists and artisans from the region who will be positioned at tables and easels along the Eastern Marsh Trail, Pearson said. Open air artists will paint pictures of the marsh and other artisans will display their crafts for demonstration and sale. Included are those who make teapots, sculpt iron art and fashion handbags, Pearson said, and that just names a few.
The day brings to fruition years of work in planning, designing and building of the $1 million-plus connector that allows bicyclists and walkers to travel under the Gillis Bridge to cross Route 1 from either direction. It was shortly after the completion of the Clipper City and Eastern Marsh trails that users and local officials realized there was a safety hazard to the popular recreational outlets.