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 ACLfan » Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:57 am

Somewhat surprisingly, RailTrails in the central Florida area have been extremely popular, with strong public sentiment for more railtrails!

I expect that this general reaction is due to the locations of the abandoned railroad lines being in previously undeveloped areas. As new residential developments are constructed, the demand for outdoor recreation facilities is very strong.

The State, along with cities and counties, have identified abandoned railroad lines that are good candidates for conversion to RailTrails. These new RailTrails provide user-safe routes for bicycling, on-line skating, and in some cases, for horse-back riding. Connections to public parks, recreation areas and activity centers are also included in the Trail construction projects.

It's amazing how many new residential developments include the proximity to a RailTrail as an amenity to entice new home purchasers!

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Railroads vs. Rail Trails

Postby SpecialK » Tue Jan 18, 2005 7:04 am

Where the re-establishment of an active freight or passenger railroad is not feasible in or near metro areas, the promotion of rail-trails is a decent plan towards creating a network of pedestrian and bicycle commuter-ways. Another alternative to using your car. Oftentimes, these abandoned lines link up with active commuter stations.
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Postby orulz » Sun Jan 23, 2005 12:56 pm

Does anybody know of any examples where a railroad ROW was completely converted over to trail use, and then returned to
railroad use sometime later? The reason I ask, is that there's a rail-trail in Durham, NC, called the American Tobacco Trail that is extremely popular as a bike path. It happens to travel from downtown through a pretty densely populated corridor to the largest shopping center in town and beyond - the ROW's value as a potential future transit corridor is undeinable. But I just can't see how the public would ever let their beloved trail be turned into a light rail line. It would seem to me that once a railroad has been turned into a trail, turning it back won't be easy.
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Postby SRS125 » Fri Jan 28, 2005 12:12 am

A lot of the old High Speed trolly lines along with parts of the West Shore Railroad and Lehigh Valley Railroad here in Central New York have been turned into trails for walking in the summer and during the winter months there used by the snowmobile clubs and cross country skying.
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Postby blockss » Mon Jul 25, 2005 4:03 pm

OK. I forgot the name of this trainlike golf cart vehicle(possibly a tram). The type often used in amusment parks to get from the parking lot to the main entrance, but I have seen these vehicles used on trails that are shared with joggers and cyclists.
For those familiar. It would be interesting to see these trams used on trails such as the B&A trail from the Baltimore Airport to Annapolis. There were plans to use the ROW to extend light rail service to Annapolis, but there was not enough right of way. There is currently a bus that runs the route of 20 miles in an hour time frame. This is because of traffic, stop lights, and deviations such as the Marley Mall(which the trail runs by).
While considerably slower, these trams could supplement the same route in a similar timeframe given they had right of way at the grade crossings, especially since bus ridership is low.
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Postby octr202 » Wed Aug 10, 2005 9:51 am

blockss wrote:OK. I forgot the name of this trainlike golf cart vehicle(possibly a tram). The type often used in amusment parks to get from the parking lot to the main entrance, but I have seen these vehicles used on trails that are shared with joggers and cyclists.
For those familiar. It would be interesting to see these trams used on trails such as the B&A trail from the Baltimore Airport to Annapolis. There were plans to use the ROW to extend light rail service to Annapolis, but there was not enough right of way. There is currently a bus that runs the route of 20 miles in an hour time frame. This is because of traffic, stop lights, and deviations such as the Marley Mall(which the trail runs by).
While considerably slower, these trams could supplement the same route in a similar timeframe given they had right of way at the grade crossings, especially since bus ridership is low.


The B&A Trail. That one's a classic that irks me as far as these things go. I seem to recall from my days living in Severna Park (while a youth, so somewhat fuzzy) that a lot of the motivation for the trail was from NIMBYs who didn't want the light rail bringing the "bad element" out from the city. I may be wrong, but I've always recalled the trail as being as much a tool to block the light rail from going further south than it does currently as anything (using the familiar logic, that once people have a beautiful trail, they will never allow it to be ripped up for trains).

Moreso than blocking private freight rail service, I fear that some trail plans consume vital ROWs in urban areas that could be used for mass transit. Arlington and Lexington, Mass. is another good example. These towns have bad traffic, and a rail trail (the Minuteman Trail) that runs the length of the towns up to Bedford, Mass. Mass transit is relegated to buses on Massachusetts Ave., stuck in traffic. The rail line was abandoned in the 1970's, and the trail put in in the early 90's. Now, with suburban traffic at the choking point, there's no hope of rail transit service in this corridor -- the trail is too popular.

Arguments are made that the trail is used for commuting, as it ends at the Alewife subway station in Cambridge, but, really, how many cars is a bike trail in New England taking off the road in January or February? certainly not more than would be on a light rail train.
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Postby ACLfan » Wed Aug 17, 2005 12:05 pm

Orulz:

The possibility of whether or not the Trail can be returned to an active railroad line depends on the provisions contained in the documents that transferred the r/w from the railroad.

In some cases, the documents state that if the railroad determines a need to reuse the r/w for active rail usage, they have the right to reclaim the property, but to reimburse the Trail owner for the loss of physical improvements, such as signage, shelters, etc.

In other cases, the railroad transferred the property to the new owner, without reuse contingency provisions. In these cases, the Trail and underlying r/w is the property of the Trail's owner. The railroad has given up the ownership of the Trail property, and any future claims to its usage.

However, if a unit of government, public agency or public utility determines that the Trail r/w is necessary for the construction of a rail line, the Trail r/w may be converted back to active rail use if the public owner determines it to be in the best public interest.

If necessary, the conversion back to an active railroad line can also be accomplished through the acquisition of the r/w land through eminent domain legal action by a public agency or utility. However, this option is highly unlikely, but is legally possible.

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Postby rhallock » Sun Dec 11, 2005 10:27 pm

I have been told that in the Australian state of New South Wales, it requires a special act of the legislature in order for any track to be torn up even if it has been out of use for many years. As a result there are haundreds, maybe thousands of Kilometers of track just laying there for what amounts to recreational use.
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Re: We have enough trails as it is

Postby MikeVT » Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:24 pm

I work with some of the trail groups here in VT. The state owns and ROW and our agreement states they can reclaim at anytime. Not just for rail but roads, power lines, pipe lines, etc. We are trying to get the Lamoille Valley rail turned in to a cross VT trail for bikes, hikers, and snowmobiles. Better use than seeing the ROW disappear. No way rail will ever return.
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Re: We have enough trails as it is

Postby gearhead » Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:30 pm

The Lamioil Valley was a viable railroad and was part of a Transcon Route from Portland ME to Montreal. It would work as a railroad IF, The Main Central right of way that is being used by Conway Scenic and owed by the state of Maine were leased to a Class 2, IF Portland ME wants to invest in a Container Ship Yard,IF Guilford would be sold to Norfolk Southern or CP. IF there were more European Cargo which the way the doller is going MIGHT be exporting more stuff to the,
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Re: We have enough trails as it is

Postby MikeVT » Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:50 pm

gearhead wrote:The Lamioil Valley was a viable railroad and was part of a Transcon Route from Portland ME to Montreal. It would work as a railroad IF, The Main Central right of way that is being used by Conway Scenic and owed by the state of Maine were leased to a Class 2, IF Portland ME wants to invest in a Container Ship Yard,IF Guilford would be sold to Norfolk Southern or CP. IF there were more European Cargo which the way the doller is going MIGHT be exporting more stuff to the,


That would be an expensive project. The ROW between St J and Swanton is in bad shape with several bridges gone or not even fit for snowmobiles. The track between St J and the VT/NH border is not much better.
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Re: We have enough trails as it is

Postby MikeVT » Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:27 pm

PaCoalCoGravityRR wrote:I can agree on both points...

... we should "relay" tracks and get more train services going again, plus add more manufacturing here in the USA to support the rail services, with that said I would take it one step further by have rail "with" trail as we do in my area now. Trails should be eco friendly and service areas so as passenger service could be restored thus easing the burden on our highway systems. Added to this the rail trails should allow motorized bicycle traffic! All of these benefits would not only stimulate the economy but allow much greater infrastructure alignments.

Thanks for viewing my scenario
PCCGRR


allow motorized bicycle traffic! That would be a dangerous mix with a trail full of pedestrians
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