Pedaling south on the Farmington Valley Greenway from Copper Hill Road in East Granby, bicyclists ride through a solid 2 miles of forest, fields and streams before the trail ends abruptly at Route 20.

End of the line.

The old train station is easy to spot across the street, but the railroad right of way simply vanishes into thick woods. Greenway advocates say they could easily extend the paved path along that old rail bed, but they wouldn't get a quarter-mile before hitting the last major obstacle on the 22-mile route - Salmon Brook bridge.

The 270-foot-long span used to carry freight trains 35 feet above the water, but has been idle for 24 years. Shrubs cover it on both banks, a white birch has grown through the rotting deck and several broken railroad ties have collapsed into the brook.

But the Farmington Valley Trails Council sees the rusting bridge as potentially one of the Greenway's most appealing spots. Much like a similar bridge in Farmington that was renovated this spring, the Salmon Brook span would offer stunning views to pedestrians and bicyclists, the council says. And it would go a long way toward completing the rail trail.

All told, $6.4 million in federal transportation money has been earmarked for the Greenway, and about $3.4 million of that has been spent, said Bill Grant of the state Department of Transportation.

The gaps along parts of the Greenway appear to be on track to be completed in the next several years:

  • From the state line at Southwick, Mass., south to Phelps Road in Suffield, about a half-mile that includes two very short railroad overpasses.

  • From the Suffield line south to Copper Hill Road in East Granby, about nine-tenths of a mile that also has one or two short water crossings.

  • From Route 189 south to Floydville Road in East Granby, more than eight-tenths of a mile that includes the bridge across the Salmon Brook, which could easily cost more than a half-million dollars.

  • From Floydville Road south to the Simsbury line, about 1.6 miles that includes the Imperial Nurseries farm owned by Griffin Land & Nurseries Inc.

    The company, which wants to avoid having the trail bisect its busy farming operation in East Granby, has agreed in principle with East Granby and Granby to an alternate route along the perimeter of its property, which would take the trail into Granby.

    Granby officials welcome the prospect of offering residents direct access to the trail. The company has offered $50,000 toward that solution. Local officials have promised a public meeting to present the plan this fall, possibly as early as next month.

  • From Drake Hill Road to Sand Hill Road in Simsbury, a segment of about 1.9 miles that includes an alternate route around the perimeter of Dyno Nobel, the former Ensign-Bickford Co. blast-detonator manufacturing operation, and a section through a condominium and townhouse complex called Hazel Meadow.

    Ensign Bickford had granted an easement for the alternate route to keep the trail from following the rail right of way through the potentially hazardous and high-security operation, said Rich Sawitzke, Simsbury's town engineer. Dyno Nobel, a Norwegian firm, bought Ensign Bickford Co. last year and the agreement for the easement is still in place.