Skip to comments.Here's the Proposed Route for the Massive, Great American Rail Trail
Posted on 05/09/2019 5:23:46 AM PDT by SJackson
A coast-to-coast hiking and biking trail is almost a reality.
The proposed Great American Rail Trail, a multi-use trail that will run across multiple states, has been in development for several years. Today, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) unveiled in a statement its preferred route for the trail, which will connect more than 125 existing trails and 90 trail gaps over 3,700 miles between Washington, D.C., and Washington State.
Originally envisioned in the 1980s, the RTC has been conducting a route assessment for the last 12 months, analyzing more than 34,000 miles of multi-use trails across the country and working with more than 200 local partners and 50 state agencies to plan the route. The proposed preferred route is planned to be one continuous route (or over 80 percent continuous) and entirely off-street, made up of almost all existing trails. Great American Rail-Trail Milo Bateman
When defining the preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail, we sought a cross-country route that would provide the highest-quality experience while delivering significant economic and social benefits to the communities it connects, said Liz Thorstensen, vice president of trail development at RTC, in a statement.
The trail itself runs through 12 states including Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington State, plus Washington D.C.,
According to the RTC, nearly 50 million people living within 50 miles of the trail will be able to find new opportunities to explore the great outdoors once the trail is complete. The 3,700-mile trail will consist of 1,961 miles of existing trails and 1,782 miles of identified gaps (sections of trail in need of development to fully connect the Great American into one single route). These trail gaps also pose more opportunities for connecting trails in the future. From the sound of it, its sure to blow some of the best trails in the U.S. straight out of the water once complete. The Biggest Mistakes Hikers Make When They Get Lost on a Trail Whether youre camping, hiking, or just exploring a national park, its important to know what to do if something goes wrong. You Might Like 4 Underrated National Parks for Your Next Trip 'Gramping' Is the Latest Travel Trend Grandparents Need to Know About
Plus, the RTC predicts that the Great American Rail Trail could potentially bring significant economic benefits to communities along the trail.
[The Great American Rail Trail] magnifies on a grand scale the benefits that trails have delivered to communities for decades, said Ryan Chao, president of RTC. Whether bridging gaps within and between communities, creating safe walking and biking access to jobs, transit, shopping and green space; or serving as recreation for cyclists, runners and casual daily explorers, this will be Americas trail. Great American Rail-Trail Hung Tran
At the moment, Washington D.C. and Maryland are the only parts of the trail that are 100 percent complete. The RTC predicts the trail completion is still decades away, but the whole of the trail is 52 percent complete.
The RTC has planned projects and initiatives to start making the Great American Rail Trail a reality. In addition to working with local and state partners, the organization is striving to reach one million pledges from outdoor lovers to help complete the massive trail project.
On May 8, the RTC will be hosting live events along the preferred route, which will also be broadcast live on the organizations Facebook page and on its website from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST.
More information on the trail, live events, and how to make a pledge can be found on the Great American Rail Trail website.
Our infrastructure is crumbling and were wasting resources on this?
“And to add a bit of a challenge, some of the rail miles will be active,” they did not go on to say.
Yeah, I can see it now. Thousands of liberals take to the rail trail to protest. That’s probably why this is being created.
If the left gets it's way, for us non government officials it will be walking, bicycles and horses. And rowboats and canoes. Some trains. Welcome to the 1880s.
I believe this is more or less a private venture. The US has 1000’s of miles of abandoned railroad right of ways. It is actually a good way to redevelop the land for public use.
Even if it gets some government funding would you rather see those funds go into Homosexual advocacy?
Your statement is like saying "why should we spend money on new cars when people are dying from cancer."
We have dozens of these trails here in Illinois. Theyre built on old railroad rights of way. One can walk from very near Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago all the way to the Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky borders.
Link to map here:
I don’t think it’s a government thing.
I used to hit the John Wayne trail in Washington state on my mountain bike. I’m guessing that will be one of the trails they link up. I thought of it as soon as I read the title.
Don’t know. I believe Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a non profit, but I’m sure they receive government money.
Just because people use and enjoy the outdoors doesn't make them liberals.
“...which will connect more than 125 existing trails and 90 trail gaps over 3,700 miles between Washington, D.C., and Washington State. “
For me that’s too far for walking or biking...they should put in some sort of mass transit.
Interestingly, existing designated bike trails include an East-West transcontinental route that is complete except for CO and CA. (The trail stops at those states’ borders, but does make it across Utah and Nevada.) It must be the mountains, but, it still seems odd the trail does not make it from the KS - CO border to Denver, for example.
Part of an old railroad bed passes through my property, its been converted to a snowmobile trail, and the local snowmobile clubs keep it clear.
I am all for Rail Trails, I think they are a great thing, but...in our economic state of debt, it makes me angry that we are spending money on these.
I worked for a few years with a local group trying to get one built through my town, and after 25+ years of trying to plan and get it built, it went active just last year. I was responsible for getting all the property maps, piecing them into a large map to help identify where easements were and who “owned” them. It was interesting and fun and played to my strengths (I had graphic arts computer skills and a computer before many people did!) but I simply couldn’t go to the meetings time and time again at the glacial progress...I had a crushing job at the time, so I dropped out. I admire that they got it built.
That is all fine and dandy.
But our roads completely and totally suck in my town. I have some roads near me (town roads) that are in shameful condition...SHAMEFUL.
This is the 100% analog of a family in debt, behind on their mortgage six months, four credit cards maxed out, and they pay to have a swimming pool and deck installed!
Converting it to a trail allows it to be used for a public purpose, but the property is deeded in such a way that it can be converted back to a railroad if there is ever a need to do it in the future.
From their FAQ:
“With the completion of the route assessment, RTC is working with state and local partners across the preferred route to determine the costs associated with trail development. Projected trail development costs will provide the detail necessary to advocate for the federal, state and local funds and private investment that will be critical to completing the trail gaps along the route.
Based on RTCs experiences completing regional trail networks across the country, we expect that a combination of federal funds dedicated to trail building, as well as state and local funds and private investment, will be critical to complete the trail gaps along the route. RTC actively advocates for federal and state programs used to support trail, walking and biking projects across the country, and will continue to do so.”
So yeah...they expect taxpayer funding in addition to any donations.
I have seen where they have turned abandoned railroads into trails and it’s actually kinda cool. I’ve biked on some of them. They cool part is that they cut through some fairly long distances and keep you out of the way of traffic, and in most cases, in (though usually not very deep) to nature. The downside to them is that they are typically rather straight and can have long stretches of boring, as the old RR lines cut through topography and avoided turns for efficiency
If I were terminally unemployed, I think it’d be interesting to hike one across the country
Not one dime of federal highway money should go to this non-essential project.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.