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November 2009 - RTC TrailBlog

  • Call for Photos: The 2009 National Recreation Trails Photo Contest

    American Trails sponsors an annual photo contest to highlight the National Recreation Trails (NRT) Program. It's not too late to enter the 2009 contest – the deadline is Tuesday, December 15. There are 21 award categories spanning trail use, trail management, trail features and artistic merit. Photos of any designated National Recreation Trail are eligible. Search the NRT database to find trails near you, or visit American Trails for contest details and to view photos entered into this year's contest.

  • Ask State Leaders to Improve Safety for Florida's Pedestrians

    According to "Dangerous by Design," a report released on November 9 by Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership, Florida has the dubious honor of being home to the four most dangerous communities in the country for pedestrians. The communities of Orlando-Kissimmee, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, and Jacksonville were ranked the top four communities on a list of the 52 most dangerous large metro areas for pedestrians in the nation. The "Dangerous by Design" report was the most recent such report, but other respected findings draw similar conclusions for both walkers and bicyclists.

    These deaths are preventable if our state government would, like some states, fund projects that enhance our safety and give walking and bicycling more meaningful consideration. We're all pedestrians at some point, and we all deserve safe places to walk. In Florida, a pedestrian is twice as likely to be struck and killed by a vehicle, on average, as is a pedestrian in other states. You fare even worse if you are a bicyclist!

    Additionally, our state governor and legislature plan on hosting a special session in December to focus on a $2 billion request for federal transportation funds to build a new high-speed rail system connecting Orlando with Tampa. Any new system must connect the places where people live, work, play and learn through trails, sidewalks and bicycle lanes, and should be included in initial planning. Trails, sidewalks and bicycle lanes must be included as intermodal links.

    Please join me in sending a loud, unified message: Enough is enough. We need safe places to walk and bike, now. If you are not a Florida resident, please consider taking one of these actions to speak up for rail-trails and active transportation.

    Image by Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership.

  • Notice: Upcoming Railroad Abandonment in Washington and Carter Counties, Tenn.


    On or about November 17, 2009, East Tennessee Railway Company filed for the abandonment of 10 miles of track in Tennessee, from the City of Johnson City in Washington County to the City of Elizabethton in Carter County. We are providing this information because it presents an opportunity to develop a real regional asset: a multi-use trail that can accommodate hikers, bikers, equestrians and other appropriate uses.

    NEXT STEPS: If this corridor is suitable for trail use, we strongly urge local trail advocates, or an appropriate local, regional or state agency or organization, to take action now. A "boiler plate" letter (found here) can be filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and the abandoning railroad using STB docket number AB-1031 (sub-no. 0x). Filing this letter does not commit its authors to acquire the corridor; it merely gives time to develop a rail-trail proposal and undertake negotiations with the railroad. According to the information we have received, the deadline for filing this letter is December 17, 2009. Even if this deadline is missed, there is probably still time to contact the relevant parties, since the railroad may have experienced a delay in filing all of the paperwork, or the STB may still have jurisdiction over the corridor. However, it is important to take prompt action. The STB posts all abandonment decisions and filings on its Web site, including the complete filing for this corridor. More information on the rail corridor, including a map, can be found in this filing.

    The STB has imposed a $200 filing fee for all railbanking requests. Entities filing a railbanking request may request a fee waiver or reduction, and government agencies will receive an automatic fee waiver. Throughout the process, make sure local government officials and citizen activists are kept informed of the project's progress. We also recommend contacting your state trails coordinator or your state bicycle/pedestrian coordinator.

    Both of these individuals are knowledgeable about state laws and resources and may be able to assist your community with this rail-trail project. Also, you may want to contact the abandoning railroad to add your name to their service list.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE: RTC's Web site may provide valuable tools as you plan for a rail-trail, including how-to manuals, the Trail-Building Toolbox, our Publications Library and the Trails & Greenways Listserv for trail advocates and professionals. These resources can be found within the "Trail-Building" section of our Web site. If you take advantage of this information and other resources promptly, you will be well on your way to creating a successful rail-trail in your community. For more information, or if you decide to pursue railbanking, please contact the National Office of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

  • Who Maintains The High Line?

    Friends of the High Line produced a video that interviews two of their maintenance staff–gardener Andi Lawton and custodian Jose Casanova. They are part of a team paid for by private donations to keep this rail-trail clean and green, and provide a glimpse of what it takes to keep one of New York's most popular public spaces in good working order.

  • Chevron Donates Easement for San Francisco Bay Trail Segment

    Chevron announced on November 2 that it will donate an easement for the San Francisco Bay Trail to East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) on Richmond's Point San Pablo Peninsula. The 20-foot-wide easement totals about 1.5 miles and covers shoreline portions of Chevron's refinery property following the former Richmond Beltline Railroad/Castro Point Railway corridor. EBRPD and Chevron have been working together for several years to secure access to this important but previously unavailable parcel to extend the Bay Trail. "With Chevron's help, the Richmond community will have more trail access and future open space parkland along the waterfront, which has long been a part of the Park District's master plan," said Bob Doyle, assistant general manager of land acquisition and advanced planning.

    The proposed easement donation consists of two segments: a southern segment beginning at the foot of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and running north to the former U.S. Naval Fuel Depot at Point Molate; and a northern segment, which runs north of the former depot past Point Orient to just south of Point San Pablo Yacht Club.

    This segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail crosses various ownerships, including property owned by the city of Richmond and Chevron. EBRPD and Chevron both recognize that some of the former railroad right-of-way may no longer be suitable for construction of the trail, with portions of the corridor having subsided over time. Chevron has agreed to cooperate with EBRPD to develop a mutually acceptable realignment of the trail, as close to the original corridor alignment as physically possible, in order to provide safe use of the trail and to maximize the visual enjoyment for trail users.

  • San Jose's Annual Trail Count Sees Usage Increase 10 percent

    For the past three years, the Department of Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services of the city of San Jose, Calif., has conducted an extensive user count and survey of its major trails and greenways. This year's count, which was conducted on September 23, has resulted in some encouraging statistics:

    • Usage is up: The overall number of trail users was 9.6 percent higher than a year ago
    • Most use the trails for transportation: 53 percent of trail users reported their primary use of the trail was to commute or run errands
    • They're using the trails more often: 68 percent reported that their usage of the trail system has increased "significantly" or "a little" in the past two years
    • Trail users feel safe: 99.4 percent reported feeling "very safe" or "somewhat safe" on the city's trail system

    There are even more numbers that quantify the good things happening on San Jose's trails–you can read all the details in the city's press release, fact sheet, summary report and survey questions and findings. You can also review survey results from 2007 and 2008 on the department's trail count website, as well. The city notes on its trail survey page that reliable statistics about trail usage have helped the city secure more than $1 million in trail funding.

    Photo of Guadalupe River Trail by Yves Zsutty, City of San Jose Department of Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services.

    Post edited from original version to include new photo and fixed links.

  • California's Gold Rush Country Celebrates New Rail-Trail

    Photo and story by Steve Schweigerdt/Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

    Trail advocates in El Dorado County, Calif., celebrated the opening of a new 2.75-mile stretch of the El Dorado Trail on October 17 at the County Government Center. Passing through California’s historic Gold Rush country, the newly paved section forms an important link between Placerville and Diamond Springs, including the Weber Creek trestle that dates back to 1903 and towers about 100 feet above the creek. The trail winds along the mountainside through mixed forest cover and is already heavily used by community bicyclists, equestrians and runners, or those looking for a quiet stroll.

    The local group Trails Now has been pushing for the trail to connect all the way from the American River Bikeway and the Pony Express Trail that leads to South Lake Tahoe. Additional sections are planned in the near future to connect to downtown Placerville and to continue from Missouri Flat Road southwest to the town of El Dorado and Mother Lode Drive. The route will traverse the site of a historical lumber mill, and connect with the future site of a county railroad museum.


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