By Jake Lynch
With the people of Aquidneck Island, R.I., keen to improve
their amenities for walking and biking, they've called on Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy (RTC) to examine the
feasibility of a rail-with-trail along a line currently used for tourist
RTC's Manager of Trail Development in the Northeast, Carl
Knoch, led a public presentation for the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission
and Bike Newport last week on the viability
of rail-with-trail projects, and opportunities to ensure the best return on
investments in bike/ped infrastructure.
The community is looking at developing a trail, referred to
in these early stages as the Shoreline Bikeway, alongside the line currently
used by the Old Colony Railway and the Newport Dinner Train (right). Though other
instances around the country have shown that tourist train operators sometimes
oppose trail development, the train operators in Aquidneck Island can see the
benefits it would bring to the island and the generation of more visitor
activity. According to an
article in the Newport Patch, the owner of the Newport Dinner Train, Bob
Andrews, attended the forum and said he supported the bikeway and looked
forward to being involved in the project.
The Shoreline Bikeway would improve access to Aquidneck Island's
natural areas, provide a healthy transportation alternative, and connect
residents and visitors to other recreation and transportation routes. Leaders
of all three of the islands municipalities have stated that active
transportation is a priority in the region, in order to increase physical activity
and reduce motor vehicle congestion.
"The trails aren't a cost, they're an investment," Knoch
said at the forum.
With widespread support from all areas of the community,
proponents are now exploring funding and design options for the project.
Photo courtesy Newport Patch
Support is building for the development of an 84-mile section of underutilized rail-corridor between
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
Washington, DC 20037