One of the most important services Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy provides is letting the general public know when a railroad company
is looking to abandon a section of rail corridor, providing an opportunity for
that corridor to be preserved intact and reused as a public pathway.
This service, which we call our Early Warning System, is the
very engine room of the rail-trail movement in America, and has inspired and
enabled local citizens, trail advocates and municipal planners to build
rail-trails in their community.
Earlier this year we sent out a notice that the Burlington
Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway Company had filed for the abandonment of 14.5
miles of track between Farmington and Dunfermline in Fulton County, Illinois.
People in this part of the world are familiar with great rail-trails, including
the Constitution Trail system, the River Trail of Illinois, and, most famously,
the Rock Island Trail.
Matter of fact, it was the Rock Island Trail (below) in nearby Peoria that
inspired a young school teacher by the name of Ray LaHood in his belief that
trails were good for America and good for the American people. Years later, as
the Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, LaHood's
experiences on the Rock Island Trail would inform his tremendous support of
trail development, biking and walking.
So it was great to see the people of Canton act quickly to secure
the opportunity to convert the disused corridor into a rail-trail and an asset
for the local community. Last month the Canton City Council passed a resolution
supporting moves to acquire the 14.5-mile corridor, with a view to building a
According to this
article in the Journal Star, the line has been inactive for more than 20
years. The disused corridor would complement the Canton Park District's
existing plans for a more extensive local trail system, which has been funded
by a sizable grant under the Federal Transportation Enhancements Program, now
called Transportation Alternatives (TA).
Make sure you don't miss an opportunity to develop a
rail-trail in your community: sign up for our Early Warning System now.
Photo of revelers on the Rock Island Trail courtesy www.traillink.com
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
Washington, DC 20037