We have enough trails as it is

General discussion related to Rail Trails nationwide, including proposed rail trail routes. The official site of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy can be found here: www.railstotrails.org.

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Postby Ken W2KB » Mon Jul 05, 2004 10:19 am

>>>Trails do not ruin railroading.<<<

It depends. Rails to Trails advocates removing the rails. Preservation groups with a more enlightened viewpoint advocate rails AND trails. Keep the existing rails intact (even could be used for speeders and easier volunteer trail maintenance) and have the walking-bike trail NEXT to the rails. That's a better solution and the ROW are almost always wide enough for this. Where there is a bridge, the trails can be shared as needed. Speeders can stop and proceed very slowly at such locations.

The rails and trails also does this >>>They help preserve open space.<<< while better preserving the rail heritage and (albeit slim) possibility of reopening a line for rail service.
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Postby NJ Vike » Mon Jul 19, 2004 5:44 pm

At first I was against it but recently hiking several of them here in Sussex and Morris County NJ, I've been able to see remains of old stations, water tanks?, mile-markers and even some signs and switches.

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Postby walt » Tue Jul 20, 2004 9:27 am

I don't have any problem with "rail-trails" as long as it is possible to restore rail service if and when it becomes feasable to do so. What I don't like is when trail advocates oppose proposals to restore rail service to those ROW's.
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Postby NJ Vike » Tue Jul 20, 2004 12:09 pm

walt wrote:I don't have any problem with "rail-trails" as long as it is possible to restore rail service if and when it becomes feasable to do so. What I don't like is when trail advocates oppose proposals to restore rail service to those ROW's.


I agree. They can always take a long walk off a short pier in that case ;-)
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Postby ACLfan » Tue Jul 20, 2004 10:53 pm

All of the rails-to-trails projects that I am personally aware have been constructed on railbeds that the RR company put up for sale, but offered for sale to public agencies on a "first opportunity" basis. In all but one case, the RR had pulled up everything years earlier, to the point that the roadbed was completely overgrown. In the South, that happens very quickly, especially during the summertime!

Railroads have learned that rails-to-trails groups aren't the only ones interested in acquiring their unwanted rights-of-way! Utility companies are very anxious to buy abandoned railroad R/W for the placement of heavy duty overhead electric power line corridors, or underground pipelines (water, aviation fuel, mixed petroleum products, natural gas, etc.). Having lived next to a high-power overhead electric powerline corridor for 22 years, I like the idea of having a convenient bike trail!

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Postby Ken W2KB » Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:01 am

The former CNJ High Bridge Branch has a natural gas transmission line located in it.

I believe that the railroads are required by Federal law to offer the abandoned ROWs for rail banking before selling them off in parcels or otherwise. Great for preservation when rails have been prevously removed, but if the sale means pulling the rails, they should be left intact and the trail built parallel to the rails.
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Postby ACLfan » Thu Jul 22, 2004 2:45 pm

I agree with you about the concept of locating trails adjacent to railroad tracks that may or may not be used at some unknown future date.

The biggest problem that I know of is some railroads are squeamish about having trails adjacent to their rails on their property, whether or not they ever might use the rail line at some unknown future date. [It's the liability issue!]

In one other case, a railroad removed the tracks from their unused line, and gave the R/W to the State for trail usage. In turn, the State transferred the R/W to a trails group. However, before any construction of a rails trail had begun, the RR realized the opportunity to serve a large new industrial park that announced its location adjacent to the former RR R/W, and wanted to extend their rail line along the former R/W to serve the new industries opening in the industrial park. The trails group holding title to the former section of trackage said "NO way!" So, it has turned into a real fight! Too Bad! Both sides lose on this one!

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Postby NJ Vike » Fri Jul 23, 2004 7:03 pm

ACLfan wrote:I agree with you about the concept of locating trails adjacent to railroad tracks that may or may not be used at some unknown future date.

The biggest problem that I know of is some railroads are squeamish about having trails adjacent to their rails on their property, whether or not they ever might use the rail line at some unknown future date. [It's the liability issue!]

In one other case, a railroad removed the tracks from their unused line, and gave the R/W to the State for trail usage. In turn, the State transferred the R/W to a trails group. However, before any construction of a rails trail had begun, the RR realized the opportunity to serve a large new industrial park that announced its location adjacent to the former RR R/W, and wanted to extend their rail line along the former R/W to serve the new industries opening in the industrial park. The trails group holding title to the former section of trackage said "NO way!" So, it has turned into a real fight! Too Bad! Both sides lose on this one!

ACLfan


Perhaps in the future they should include language that stipulates that if and that *.*
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Postby Ken W2KB » Fri Jul 23, 2004 7:45 pm

>>>The biggest problem that I know of is some railroads are squeamish about having trails adjacent to their rails on their property, whether or not they ever might use the rail line at some unknown future date. [It's the liability issue!] <<<

That does not apply to abandoned lines. The RR sells the ROW to a government agency for trails use and preservation. Those are prime candidates for rails with trails.
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Postby ACLfan » Sun Jul 25, 2004 12:39 am

Ken W2KB: Perhaps you misunderstood my post. I wasn't referring to abandoned railroad R/W in my comment about railroad brass being squeamish about trails next to rails. Instead, I was referring to rail lines that are still owned by the RR, but are not presently in active service, and haven't been used for some time! And, they are not in "railbank" status.

We have been working closely with a major railroad about the placement of trails within the R/W of VERY lightly used branch rail lines (no existing rail customers, the rail is intact but rusty, the ties are shot, the ballast has all but disappeared, and weeds rule).

The major issue has been one of liability, as the railroad has expressed strong reservations about the construction of trails on their R/W, even if the section of trackage has been declared as inactive, and not subject to standard maintenance requirements (excepted track). The existing R/W in each case is adequately wide enough to accomplish a more than sufficient distance between the outward "reach" line for rail freight cars, and the edge of the trail R/W (not the edge of the trail itself). Still, no go!

Of course, the railroad has been extremely cooperative regarding the acquisition of abandoned rail line R/W!

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Postby Ken W2KB » Sat Jul 31, 2004 2:52 pm

I believe that the traction line trail east of Morristown NJ parallels the very active NJT M&E divison mainline (ex DL&W). It's fenced off with chain link. That might be a helpful example for your efforts.

Best of luck in succeeding!!
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Postby N. Todd » Fri Oct 08, 2004 8:20 pm

In Portland and Milwaukee Oregon, the remains of the Portland Traction Company (an xSP & UP heavy switching line) are operated by the Oregon Pacific railroad. They allowed the city to build a path that parallels their ROW for about four miles. The owner had absolutly no problem with that!

A little sad history on the rest...
When the rest of the route (about 20 miles) was sold to the same cities in 1990/1 by the owner, SP , guess who put up a fight to save it? Not just the OPR, but a lumber mill at the end of the line. $945k was offered for it by them. Portland said basically that there was no traffic to justify the operation of the line. Customers reportedly complained and protested, saying that the SP gave horrible service and didn't maintain the railroad well. They asked to have the OPR take it over.
Of course the Portland NIMBYs did what they do best, in the process removing the two bridges which connected the ROW to the outside world. Now they want to spend another heap of money to put new ones in!
This is a horrible example of a rails-to-trails conversion. All of the route in the urban areas has been paved over, and the only direct indications that there was a railroad here state that the line was last used in 1958- that was only when passenger service was discontinued!

If anything, a rails-with-trails or a railbiking effort would have been better.
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Postby GP9 » Sat Oct 16, 2004 8:25 am

It is pointless to say that because NIMBY's would never let it be returned to railroad use, a rail line should not be converted to a rail trail. Anytime a railroad want's to restore service or increase capacity on an active line-NIMBY's will always say-No Way!! My life will be ruined from noise, lower property values, and from killer trains!!!
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Postby exile » Fri Dec 10, 2004 12:01 pm

Not sure if non-US rail/trails can be mentioned - but here goes:-

A certain amount of rail-to-trail has happened in Britain. The routes in general are fairly short but in some cases have been linked together to form long distance paths. For example, the Trans Pennine Trail uses parts of the following ex-rail routes

Warrington-Stockport
Manchester-Sheffield via Woodhead Tunnel (well, you can't actually go THROUGH the tunnel, which is 3 miles long and was built as recently as 1954, abandoned in 1980)

More often, though, rail rights of way have disappeared under roads, housing or industry.

Oddly enough, trails are NOT popular with NIMBYs here. People don't like having human beings walking past their back fences, throwing beer cans into their back yards, etc. They'd prefer a nice 6-lane highway.
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Postby Ken W2KB » Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:44 pm

Thanks for adding the info on the UK. A trail recently opened on a long-abandoned 5 mile or so spur in the County in which I live. There was significant opposition by adjoining homeowners, but a 10 foot or so wide gravel train now exists. New Jersey State law now requires that all new trails be built so as to be accessible by fire and medical emergency vehicles should the need arise.
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