Rails To Trails Conservancy
Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity
shop   |   eNews   |   find a trail
Share this page:

August 2010 - RTC TrailBlog

  • Notice: Upcoming Railroad Abandonment in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

    RECEIVE RAILROAD ABANDONMENT NOTICES FOR YOUR STATE VIA E-MAIL

    On or about August 17, 2010, East Penn Railroad Company filed for the abandonment of 2.14  miles of track in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. This corridor begins in the Borough of Bridgeport and ends at Henderson Road in Upper Merion Township. The 2005 Montgomery County Comprehensive Plan identified this corridor for potential future development as part of the Chester Valley Trail. 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-1020 (sub-no. 1x). 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 September 16, 2010. 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 Northeast Regional Office of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

  • Notice: Upcoming Railroad Abandonment in Clay County, Kentucky

    RECEIVE RAILROAD ABANDONMENT NOTICES FOR YOUR STATE VIA E-MAIL

    On or about August 16, 2010, CSX Transportation, Inc. filed for the abandonment of 2.95 miles of track in Manchester, Clay County, Kentucky. 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-55 (sub-no. 704x). 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 September 15, 2010. 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.

  • Rail-Themed Kiosks in Idaho

    This past weekend, while on a rail-trail trip to Missoula, Mont., I stopped off in Moscow, Idaho, to visit where my oldest brother went to graduate school. While a student at the University of Idaho, he used to run several times a week on the local Bill Chipman Palouse Trail. It covers 7.5 paved miles and connects across the border to Pullman, Wash., and the Washington State University campus. We stopped to take a few nostalgic photos on our way through town and discovered some new signage and other trailhead amenities. In particular, we noticed several informational kiosks designed to look like mini tracks. They were certainly eye-catching and added an artistic touch to the story of the trail and railroad, which once brought students to town in the early 1900s. 

  • Louisiana Green Corps Youth Help Plan Lafitte Corridor

    By Ethan Ellestad

    As a teenager, it is often hard enough to get your voice heard, let alone be taken seriously. Yet, on a hot day in late June, more than 30 young people from the Louisiana Green Corps set out on a tour of the Lafitte Greenway to prove that their opinions and ideas were just as valid as anyone’s twice their age.

    Every summer, the Louisiana Green Corps, a non-profit dedicated to providing green job skills training to unemployed, underemployed or otherwise disadvantaged New Orleans youth, host an intensive six week summer program for 14 and 15 year old students.

    As a part of this program, members of the Green Corps set their sights on creating a more youth-friendly Lafitte Greenway. On a sun-drenched June day, the group began with some basic maintenance, picking up bits of trash and cutting back the most overgrown areas.

    Soon, however, they moved into the bulk of the day’s work. Walking down a stretch of the Greenway, the students took note of the existing assets and imagined the possibilities. One noted that a pair of abandoned tennis courts could be turned into basketball courts. Another suggested that a well-placed snoball stand would be a great way for residents to beat the summer heat. Many of the young people, pointing out the lack of infrastructure along the way, thought several rest stops would provide both shade and a place for people to gather along the path.

    Throughout the day, a common refrain was the lack of recreational activities youth currently have in the city. It was agreed that the Greenway, if designed with the needs of young people in mind, could help fill that gap. After a day visiting the actual site of the Greenway, the participating youth then spent the following few days in the classroom, discussing how, if given the chance, they would design the space. Conversations jumped from topic to topic, including such issues as public safety, environmental sustainability, and, of course, recreation. On the final day of the exercise, groups of students presented their ideas, two of whichLafitte Going Green and Lafitte Corridor Rest Stop—are available online.

    Many thanks are due to the Louisiana Green Corps for helping facilitate this effort, and also all the youth who participated. It remains important that young people have their voices heard in the design process, as they are the ones who can best articulate their own needs. If you have a youth group that may want to participate in similar efforts, please e-mail Lafitte Greenway Community Outreach Coordinator Ethan Ellestad at lafittegreenway@gmail.com.

    This post is a modified version of theoriginal, posted at the website of RTC partner Friends of Lafitte Corridor. Photo by Gregory Aycock/Louisiana Green Corps.

  • The Ludlam Trail: Florida's Next Great Trail?

    The proposed Ludlam Trail provides a unique opportunity to develop a 6.2-mile multi-use trail through the heart of Miami-Dade County within the former Florida East Coast railway right-of-way. The trail will provide a safe dedicated and direct route for cyclists and pedestrians to schools, parks, work and shopping. The trail can connect more than 34,000 people within a half-mile, walkable service area to five greenways, five schools, four parks and two transit hubs.

    The Ludlam Trail Design Guidelines and Standards report provides both specific guidance for the design of the Ludlam Trail and general guidance for urban trails within Miami-Dade County, including illustrated graphics. It is based on a transparent, methodical approach to planning an urban trail that includes research of official documents, evaluation of comparable trails, best practices principles, lessons learned, recommendations and standards, and design guidelines. 

    For additional information, please view the recently completed report and executive summary developed by the AECOM and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in conjunction with the Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation Department (Note: these files will not copy or print). Please contact Mark Heinicke, MDPR project manager, at 305.755.7811 or mheinic2@miamidade.gov to obtain PDF files for printing or for further inquires on this project. 

    This post was modified from its original version to include information on the Ludlam Trail Design Guidelines and Standards report. 

  • Join Our Webinar: The Secrets to Gardens on Urban Pathways

    The Secrets to Gardens on Urban Pathways
    Hosted by RTC's Urban Pathways Initiative
    Thursday, August 26, 2010 - 2 p.m. EST

    Gardens along trails are great community resources that can not only build a connection to local food and natural systems, but also improve community interaction, break down generational barriers and add a sense of livability to urban areas. Maintaining a community or school garden along a trail requires space, money, expertise, dedication and relationships. Jesse Kurtz-Nicholl of Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future, Urban Tilth executive director Doria Robinson and Park Guthrie of Wildcat Farms have led projects along rail-trails in Richmond, Calif., and Washington, D.C. They will present and take questions on how to foster, start and maintain community gardens along trails in urban areas.

    Read biographies of webinar presenters .

    Photo by M.V. Jantzen/Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

  • Cleveland Walk+Roll Event Features Morgana Run Trail

    A beautiful, sunny July 25 made a wonderful backdrop for the Walk+Roll event in Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood. The Sunday event brought hundreds of people, young and old, to enjoy numerous events throughout the community. Walk+Roll sponsored the event in conjunction with Slavic Village Development. The celebration included the closing of 1.8 miles of neighborhood streets to motor traffic, creating a festive atmosphere as cyclists and walkers took over the streets and the connecting Morgana Run Trail.

    Beginning at Cleveland Metroparks Washington Reservation, which hosted live music, soccer and golf stations, the 2.6-mile loop ran through Slavic Village. Along the route participants enjoyed cuisine from local restaurants, tours of the extensive community gardens, multiple live music sites, a carnival area for families including free root beer floats, skateboarding demonstrations and baseball games played by America's longest-running little league organization.

    Another highlight of the day was the official dedication of Rotoflora, the newly installed public art piece at the 49th Street trailhead. The concentration of people and smiles back at Washington Reservation late in the afternoon confirmed the overwhelming success of the event.

    Photo by Eric Oberg/Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

  • City of Lights Program Teaches Bike Repair and Safety Skills for Immigrant Cyclists

    The challenges of safely navigating Los Angeles by bike are particularly difficult for new immigrants who depend on biking to and from work yet are not connected to the larger bicycling community. Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) is reaching out to these cyclists through their City of Lights program, which aims to help them ride safely and keep their equipment in good repair, as well as develop their potential to become local advocates for better bicycle facilities and education in their communities. 

    Formed in late 2008, the program works at the IDEPSCA and CARECEN day labor centers to give free bike maintenance and safety workshops in Spanish. Cyclists have also received free lights, maps, safety vests and patch kits.

    These cyclists depend on their bikes to get to the labor center. Many participants attend the BiciDigna bike repair workshop every week, or they attend attend the City of Lights Volunteer Retreat. Building these safety programs helps the participants form relationships that bring them into the greater cycling community, where they are also recognized for the healthy and sustainable transportation they are using.

    LACBC is hosting City of Lights' first annual awards dinner and fundraiser for the program on Thursday, August 12, to sustain and extend the program to additional day labor centers. Tickets to the dinner are still available.

    In addition to a website and blog featuring video clips of the training workshops, the program has developed resource materials for download, such as a community bike parking guide in English and Spanish, and an illustrated Spanish language cycling guide. If there are immigrant cyclists in your city, consider reaching out to day labor centers, other worksites or affordable housing complexes to build some powerful alliances with the cyclists who ride there.

  • The Sojourn Experience

    By Becky Chanis, Magazine Intern

    Sojourn volunteers in front of the Battleship New JerseyFew interns get to say their summer job required them to bike more than 200 miles in a single week. Perhaps even fewer can say they asked to do it. Luckily, I am one of those few. On July 16, 2010, I packed two duffel bags and joined the staff of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) for the 8th Annual Greenway Sojourn in Camden, N.J. For one week, it would be my job to cycle from Camden to Jim Thorpe, Pa., and back again with a group of more than 300 Sojourners, experiencing and documenting the trip from their point of view.

    My main reason for volunteering for such a trip was that it, of course, seemed fun; however, the Greenway Sojourn quickly became something more than a quasi-vacation. It became a learning experience, in which I saw firsthand why the mission of RTC is so relevant.

    I learned that trails open up a whole new world to their users. As a lifelong city kid from Manhattan, I haven't spent much time around green things. The Greenway Sojourn often felt akin to discovering an alien planet or entering the Jurassic period: I was continually surrounded by foreign, lush landscapes. When it rained on Day 3 while we rode the Perkiomen Trail, I felt as though my senses were deceiving me. The shaded trail was filled with the dewy scent of foliage; water came down from the sky in torrents, turning a leisurely bike ride into a muddy adventure. It was all so new and fresh; I had never seen anything so beautiful. I realized trail riding was an easy way to welcome nature into my daily life.

    The Sojourners' use of rail-trails also contributed exponentially to the communities that had built them. Our visits to Conshohocken, Manayunk, Jim Thorpe and several other Pennsylvania "trail towns" helped support their local economies and encourage future development. We ate locally grown produce and patronized small businesses, from restaurants to bicycle shops. We learned about local history, natural life and politics. Our weeklong trip helped sustain these communities, as well as the beautiful land that surrounds them.

    It was also great to see that the support did not begin and end with the Sojourners. Fuji Bikes donated bicycles to the kids and staff from the LEAP School in Camden, N.J. (one of two schools that were sponsored to ride the Sojourn). For the adults, in addition to sponsoring the ride, Fetzer Vineyards held several wine tastings with dinner. And the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Coopers Ferry Development Association also generously and enthusiastically supported the ride.

    On a personal level, the Sojourn was a way of showing my friends, family members and others that sustainable, healthy living is a viable option when you have access to great trails. Although building rail-trails is the first step, the real benefits come from using them.

  • From the Beltway to the Bikeway: Local News Radio Rides with Trail Patrol

    In the Washington, D.C., area, WTOP radio is known as the station with updates on Beltway traffic every 10 minutes. But reporter Kate Ryan switched her minivan for a bicycle and has been taking listeners along for the ride. From ladies nights at local bike shops to free bike clinics, Ryan has been covering the local bike scene for a mainstream audience. As part of her coverage, she's paid significant attention to trails. Recently, she took a spin with Officer Donald Brew, who patrols the Capital Crescent Trail for the Maryland-National Capital Park Police.

    Brew discusses the training that a bike-mounted police officer must go through, including instruction on riding down stairs and handling a gun while on a bicycle. He also notes that proper trail etiquette is a major issue on a busy trail like the Capital Crescent. Dogs on long leashes and children wandering around the trail can create hazards for other trail users, and higher-speed trail users must give an audible warning before passing a slower trail user. 

    "Brew says the key to keeping the trail safe for the cyclists, the joggers and the dog walkers isn’t enforcement," Ryan writes. "It’s courtesy."

 

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037
+1-202-331-9696