Friday, November 16, 2007

Rails and Trails - Information to Ponder

This article was forwarded to me by a rail supporter. I recently voted to send a resolution to our Congressmen to support the conversion of what is commonlly know as the Kellar Railway to a trail PROVIDING that this valuable pathway be "railbanked". The County Board was assured this branch would be railbanked by pro-trail advocate and developer Dave Maloof. Subsquent followup finds that this is not the case.

Merle Widmer 11/16/07

Re: TRAILS TO RAILS - the difference between RRers and bikers.
Thu Nov 15, 2007 7:45 am ((PST))

Looks like everybody here realizes the common need for alternate forms of
> > transportation (specifically, trucks) and we don't get all crazy when a rail line is
> > converted to recreational trail use.
> > Why then don't bikers / hikers ("It's all about meeeee!") get it when an
> > abandoned rail line comes back as a needed economic-development tool?
> > There's a world of difference in thinking between our two camps, it
> > appears.
> > ===========================
> > Some of these trail users don't care about the 'RIGHTS' of business owners. All they care about is one thing, that they can use a TRAIL to bike or walk. I would tell these people who are up in arms - 'Ok, you employ these people if you DO NOT want businesses to expand', but I bet
> they don't have a job! :)
> > Currently there is a case of trails going back to rails in Wisconsin.
> > In the new TRAINS magazine, the Wisconsin Southern is working with
> > the state of Wisconsin to reactivate a former rail line. Now a trail, the railroad is experiencing
> > growth in the area, which last saw train traffic in the late 1950s. Apparently what is
> > happening is WSOR rr has some present customers who want to expand their
> > businesses but need rail service in a new area.
> > The line runs from Monroe to Mineral Point and a branch would lead to Shullsburg which was
> > abandoned in th very early 60's The balance of the line was abandoned in the
> > mid to late 80's. Pecatonica Rail Transit Commission has already given this project it
> > blessing and forwarded it on to the state. It will be a $45 million project over 65 miles with 15
> > miles of ROW to be repurchased and done over a three year period.
> > The bridges have to be rebuilt and that could be done to accommodate a trail. This trail is a
> > crap hole for ATV'ers and horse people and they are really up in arms over the
> > entire thing and have been very vocal in their opposition to the railroad taking our trail.
> >Trail Users -- GROW UP!!!!! Jobs = tax growth = tax decreases...
Re: TRAILS TO RAILS - the difference between RRers and bikers.
> Date: Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:27 am ((PST))
> It seems like there is a lot of hostility against rails to trails amongst this group. I think there are
> two sides to each story so let me share a little. My parents live on the NS line between Buffalo and Chicago (old Nickel Plate line next to Lake Erie) and they would rather have trains running in their backyard vs unknown people walking and running behind their yard. I know a lot of people in the neighborhood have similar feelings. On the other hand I live in Pittsburgh so I have
> access to the Montour Trail (old Montour Railroad) and the Great Allegheny Passage (former WM line between Pittsburgh and Cumberland MD). Both are first class trails, I have enjoyed many hours of exersize and beautiful scenery riding the trail. The trail is also bringing tons of economic growth to the areas along the trail. Many small towns are coming back to life with Bed and Breakfasts, bike shops and eateries. These are towns that if the railroad rebuilt through there would just be a pass-through location. The other thing I love about the trails is that they preserve the railroad history. There are old stations along the trail that have been restored and have museums in them Meyersdale). I would much rather an old rail line be turned into a trail that the public
> can use over it reverting back to the original land owners so the railroad history can be destroyed. Many of the rails to trails groups are very preservation minded. I know on the Great Allegheny Passage they have moved a bridge and are restoring it to original condition instead of just building a bike bridge. Some trails have rail cars along side, and many still have signals too. In many places the abandoned railroad is never coming back, because either the industry that it used to
> support is gone, or there are better lines nearby. In those cases I think turning them into trails is a better use than hoping that one day the glory of the rails will be back.
> As with everything a middle ground should be sought out. I know in some areas they've actually located a trail next to an active mail line. I'd love to ride by bike and watch passing trains.

> > It seems like there is a lot of hostility against rails to trails amongst this group. I think there are
> > two sides to each story so let me share a little. Nate, I'll second a lot of your comments - check out this out from Greg Harrison's new abandoned rails website:
> I ride the East Bay Bike trail typically a couple of times a week, doing usually between 18 & 30 (or more) miles as a workout; seeing the forlorn-looking track alongside the bike trail inspired me to start doing some historical research on the line whose former roadbed it's built on - the New Havens's (later Providence & Worcester's) former Providence, Warren & Bristol branch.
> It's far better to see an old right-of-way preserved as a rail trail then to get totally obliterated by property development; an excellent example is the Cape Rail Trail in MA (which I also ride during the
> summer months). The Cape Rail Trail starts in South Dennis, MA & runs up to South Wellfleet; the roadbed was originally the Cape Cod Central, then became Old Colony & later New Haven, running originally all the way out to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. When abandonment of the line began in the 1960's, the stretch from Provincetown down to South Wellfleet was abandoned first. (This was LONG before the rails-to-trails movement). I've tried following the old roadbed from the north end of the bike trail in South Wellfleet up all the way to Provincetown on "Google Earth" & Microsoft's "Live Local"; I've actually explored some of the roadbed (beyond the bike trail) on my bike. From Wellfleet going northward ("eastbound" from Boston), a sizable percentage of the roadbed has been TOTALLY obliterated by property development on the Cape. The stretch which is
> the existing Cape Rail Trail was abandoned a bit later & was one of the first rails-to-trails conversions in this area. (Surprisingly, the roadbed for the Chatham branch, abandoned even earlier in 1937, was never developed, and was paved as an extension to the Cape Rail Trail in the last couple of years).
> Regarding the original thread on the protests of ATV'ers & horse riders on the trail-back-to-rail in Wisconsin, was this ACTUALLY a "legitimate" rails-to-trails conversion, or did the ATV'ers & horse
> riders just "claim" the abandoned right-of-way as "their own"? (I frequently see ATV's on the abandoned former New Haven roadbed between Whittenton Junction in Taunton & Stoughton, MA; this roadbed may see rails RETURNED to it by the MBTA as a restoration of commuter rail
> service to Fall River (where I live) & New Bedford). My personal observation is that a high percentage of ATV'er's have little regard for anything other than getting their "jollies"; I've seen them on the Cape Rail Trail, for example, where gas-powered vehicles are expressly FORBIDDEN! A lot of the legitimate rail trails are developed under "rail-banking" clauses, which stipulate that the right-of-way CAN revert to railroad use, if needed.

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