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Rails to trails

Shelby

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
Does anyone have any solid information/know where I can get some solid information on the "Rails to Trails" program? All I keep finding is articles declaring how great a program it is, but nothing to tell me how to get started! Any help or contact information would be great!
 

ZonedOut

Member
Messages
14
Points
1
However, the point of *Rails to Trails* is that the corridor is "saved" for potential future rail use. Anyway, most rail lines that are converted have been abandoned for many years already before being converted to a recreational trail. (Ozaukee County, WI rail trail - previously abandoned for almost 50 years) The abandonment of a rail line is a long process and it is not easy for a trail enthusiast to get a line abandoned for recreation unless it's worthless for e.d. reasons- my point being that usually the RailTrail is the last resort for a lifeless corridor. By the way, those lifeless corridors are very dangerous as they attract crime and vandalism, not to mention the scary bridges and trestles that kids love to hang off.

The use of rail is ALWAYS known to be the preferred use and the recreational trail would have to be reverted back to that if the need arose in the future. (With Wisconsin's Governor Tommy Thompson, that could happen in some places - he's a big rail enthusiast)

So go for it Shelby, it's an excellent opportunity!
 

David Danenfelzer

Cyburbian
Messages
20
Points
2
Please don't start a rails to trails program. At least not without a great deal of investigation first. Yes, they have been lauded as great for recreation and are wonderful ways to get people into nature in a low impact way. But, if you research the private companies that have supported rails to trail in many states (Wisconsin for one)you'll find that trucking companies are big supporters. Why? Because taking old short lines out of service for good makes thier competition go away.

If you're really interested in doing some good for your local economy and environment, look into getting a short line railroad to reuse the rail. There are several that are going strong. If the line is completely useless for economic development though, good luck with your trail, I am sure it will be beautiful.

David W. Danenfelzer
 

Brent

Cyburbian
Messages
107
Points
6
Shelby,

"Zoned Out" is right - don't let David's comments discourage you. There are a good deal of ancillary economic benefits that come from rail trails, not to mention the basic "quality of life" benefits. The website Tim references should be a very good start for you.

Good luck.
 

Ken

Member
Messages
11
Points
1
I worked on piecing together a rail-trail of 19 miles. Contrary to what David stated above, this was not a limiting of competition. The railroad was actively selling off chunks of the corridor, which had not been in use for ages. Now the trail is seen by many as the best park in our county system of parks, and has spurred economic development in at least two of the towns it connects.

Please DO start a rail-trail program, or a trail program of any sort (we've now developed an equally successful one along a canal). You might contact the Rails to Trails Conservancy; they have some excellent materials on planning and design.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
Another concept to explore is "Rails with Trails." More and more, people are realizing the potential to share active rail lines with recreational trails. I can cite examples in Wisconsin and Minnesota where this has been done, but there are many more.

If you think about it, the rails themselves take up only a fraction of the right-of-way, which is often as much as 200' wide. Why not put a trail alongside?
 

Plannerific

Member
Messages
9
Points
0
You should try looking at the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska. It's the longest Rails to Trails line in the United States. Contact the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to get a copy of the Master Plan. Go for it and good luck!
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
You can download information from www.trailsandgreenways.org, including "Rails with Trails: Sharing Corridors for Transportation and Recreation." Also check out the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse.
 

Veloise

Cyburbian
Messages
5,549
Points
27
Now this is an ancient thread.

In my local paper today: this article citing the ag owner's fears of vandalism, animal abuse, liability, disease (?), and noise.

I've asked members of my bicycle club to weigh in with dB levels.
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
6,241
Points
26
Now this is an ancient thread.

In my local paper today: this article citing the ag owner's fears of vandalism, animal abuse, liability, disease (?), and noise.

I've asked members of my bicycle club to weigh in with dB levels.
Seems to me that the bikes and walkers would be less of a problem for the cattle than a freight train barreling through at 70 mph!
 

ahmorgan

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
http://www.earpdc.org/Menus/Documents/bikepedplan.pdf

Pages 17-20 have a survey taken by residents in Alabama who live adjacent to the Chief Ladiga RtT corridor. According to the results, very few respondents have had problems with trail users (about 10% or 8 out of 78) claim vandalism or theft to have occurred as a result of trail users), and the majority finds it to have improved the quality of life in their community.

Also, having biked on that trail many times, I've yet to see cattle mesmerized by my brief presence!
 

Veloise

Cyburbian
Messages
5,549
Points
27
Congrats, y'all are now immortalized on MLive.

One of my bike club members composed the longer-than-250 words reply. It was rejected as a letter to the editor, so I suggested he run spell-check and add as a comment. (Guess he didn't get the memo about aliases.)
 
Messages
11
Points
1
Sorry, but I have to agree with David on this. My reasons may be a little different. Although I tend to support the kind of efforts and planning of which Rails-to-Trails is a part, I don't think it's the first thing to consider when dealing with a railroad right- of-way.

I grew up in textile and tobacco country, where urban development grew with those industries and profoundly shaped by rail service. Many of the cities in that part of the U.S. have mulitple old corridors radiating outwards like wheel spokes. The trend in railroading has been one of consolidation or centralization, leaving many of these older lines - which often were built by competing companies that eventually consolidated through mergers - as redundant corridors that could be abandoned or partially abandoned.

Anyway, even though the idea is to preserve the corridor with an RTT, I haven't seen it really achieve that. Most are created with no intention to ever return the corridor to active rail service, because that is literally beyond the power of a single local government or even a single state government when dealing with major railroads - whose boundaries span mulitple geographic and political regions. Yet rail transportation is still really the best use for it. I'm not going to rant about the automobile here, but that's more or less the point I'm coming from. A disused corridor still represents a sizeable cost that was invested in order to move people and things around in volume - a cost that is often raised as an objection to the new construction of light rail or high speed rail.

It's far more valuable as a part of mass transportation infrastructure than for recreation. I'm not talking about fast transit on the "high iron," here - although I suppose some could be used for that - but rather for retaining what could become feeder lines or the skeletal basis of local light rail. Particularly in urban areas that, depending on the winds of politics, could be nodes on a high speed line.

It may be that trucking companies stand to benefit by stifling their competition, but almost certainly the state highway department does. I know I'm biased, but DOTs are money machines. That is, the money is pavement-oriented and politically entrenched.

I'm on the verge of ranting so.... this is where I get off. :)
 

oldgrowthpoet

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
We have this kind of program implemented in my town. It appears that some programs are using inactive rail lines, while ours is along a still active rail line (segregated by a chain link fence).

The program was designed to run the length of the city as the backbone of a cycling network.

Now here is the problem - the city built the program in phases and the first half has been completed. The company that owns the rail line came back during phase two to complete this trail and walked away from the deal citing liability issues (there have been vandalism problems with the trail that has been costly and extensive).

Anyways, now our city as half a rails with trails network and a legal problem. I think the vandalism problem is obviously due to the fact that these trails are usually tucked in the backside of adjacent development (out of sight, out of mind).

I'm of the opinion that cyclists are probably better suited on roads than near rail lines with their own space. On the positive side, our city is thinking about leaving the line available for use for ground level mass transit in the distant future if growth continues.

Here is an article that details the issues with our rails with trials.
 
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