Rail Trail Advocates reveal there big lie...


Rail Trail people say that they want the railroad tracks torn up for a trail....or that the railroad corrodor sould be preserved as a trail in case the railroad needs it back under rail banking...But here again this is where environmentalists go mental... They support green transport but still want there trail. This happened In DC when the B&O line to Bethesda was considered for a light rail line the local Not In My Back Yards fought it which incidentally was the same people who fought  the trail to begin with.....Now there is some evidence that Wick Moorman saying that the Pittsburgh-Wierton-Columbus Abandonment of the Panhandle Line was a mistake by Conrail...Well there is the Panhandle Trail and there is track at both ends...Its time to test the railbanking act and start making some withdrawals from the" bank" . The Panhandle Line would make a great intermodal route and avoid having to go up to Cleveland and back down....I use rail trails but some of these guys want to bury the patient when there not dead yet or just in a long coma

18 Replies

  • I remember the Bethesda trail upset when I lived there many years ago, it seems to be a common problem.  I had hoped that somewhere in the legal language of the creation of a trail out of an abandoned rail row there would be a clean, binding condition under-which reversal was an absolute right but I was probably naive.

  • The Rails To Trails program has always been a one way road away from railway use...   The various examples are usually some sort of utility or concrete bike/pedestrian structure placed exactly so as  to make rail rebuild unduly difficult.   We are about to receive our due recompense for dismantling the legacy rail network..

    There is some justice in the world, that being the gentrified neighborhoods willingly blocking rail rebuild will soon regret lack of mobility in an energy emergency gridlock.     Another factor in the rail matrix discussion has to do with post disaster mobility and victuals delivery in quarantine.    Planners associated with dormant rail corridor rebuild would be helped by examination of book: "The Woolsorter's Plague".     Strategic planning looks at rail corridor as very high value infrastructure, and makes negative allotment of resources in emergencies for places with restricted or no rail access.   When disaster planning sees restricted rail access, they are forced to using aviation mode for recovery (if available!) and that could preclude full level assistance.  Moreover, lack of rail hinders rebuild, as well.

    Americans do not want to face the facts of real possibility of homeland attack.  Fair enough.  Putting the worst aside, we have plain old severe weather threats worse than experienced in most people's lifetime.     We simply do not have experience in disaster impacts on a regional scale such that, rubber tire recovery methodologies have been overwhelmed.   The closest we came was Katrina, when we ran out of fuel in the area freeway network for a short time.     Imagine that sort of impact over a much larger area, including mass casualties, something not part of the picture EVER, in America.    Haiti is an ongoing example of a place with a forgotten rail corridor running right through a never-ending disaster zone.    Interested parties in the States should get copy of  "US Rail Map Atlas Volumes"  from spv.co.uk  showing legacy and present rail corridors for respective regions of the USA.    Time to take the rails back from know-nothing NIMBY's!

    ALL railroad management should read & heed Anthony Cordesman's  (ISIS) sobering estimates of ramifications of Middle East conflict involving attack on Israel.    We will not escape the shock waves...   Railway is called "Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform" in WWII military parlance.  Stand alone, Guarantor Of  Societal & Commercial Cohesion...   Rare is the railway executive that even knows these things, much less speaks out-    Homeland Security officials have not been honest brokers with regard to seeing the proper administration of the Trails program and appropriate restoration of needed routes to railway.    The time is near;  as Churchill said:  "Something Extraordinary Is Afoot!"

  • In reply to oamundsen:

    This particular issue is a little more complicated.

    1.  But yes, over time the idea of rail banking gets lost as people use a trail.  And it creates a constituency in favor of one use and leery about a different use.  Despite examples of integrated trails and rails.

    -  http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/12328091/



    2.  Rails to Trails Conservancy national headquarters respects trails as true railbanking, and does not object to bringing rail services back.  The proposed Purple Line in Montgomery is a perfect example.

    3.  Some residents and a local golf course are against the light rail in Montgomery County because it will be in their backyards so to speak, and/or because they have been illegally using the old right of way as extensions of their properties are against the light rail.  But that doesn't make them pro-trail.  The "Save the Trail" group doesn't appear to be a pro-trail group as much as it is an anti-light rail group seizing on anything they can use to obfuscate the issues.

    4.  Bicycle advocacy organizations in the Washington region are not against the creation of the Purple Line and the integration of a bike trail along the line.  However, MTA says they don't do "biking," so trail planning is a separate initiative involving the local jurisdictions and different MD DOT agencies from MTA.  (Note that when I was the bike and pedestrian planner in Baltimore County, I put in the plan a recommendation that a trail be integrated into the planning and construction of the Red Line light rail system there.  Planning is underway and I don't work there now, so I don't know the status of that recommendation.)

    5.  One area that did cause some issues was the desire to have the trail and the light rail share an underground tunnel in Bethesda so that the trail would retain its under Wisconsin Avenue routing, reducing conflicts with motor vehicles.  Bike advocates were torn on this.  But the cost is especially prohibitive and the cost-benefit given that it would take $ away from other projects was not favorable.

    There can be high quality on street trail crossings. I know that photos from the Indianapolis Cultural Trail that I displayed as part of a post on the issue were shared with Montgomery County Councilmembers in considering to accept having an at-grade trail connection.  


    Some advocates suggested ending the light rail short of the station to preserve the joint trail and light rail.  Of course, that is a stupid idea as it would increase difficulties with transfer/articulation between modes, reducing use, plus if the line is eventually extended west into Virginia, that would create problems in the future.


  • In reply to tahoevallleylines:

    I long ago realized that rail to trail was a hoax. Though it sounds good in word it is not good in deed. Am I wrong in saying they have fought returning trail to rail in the past? Seems I have read of such things being done. It is fantastic to hear Wick speak out about the Panhandle Line. Ohio bought it's portion and spoke out against the abandonment of the portion that is now a trail as it broke the direct Columbus-Pittsburgh route. The same could be said IMO for the Dayton to Indianapolis portion. The direst llinks were torn up and everything squeezed into Northern Ohio which now suffers from congestion. Should we also mention CSX ripping up the Ohio Division and routing freight Baltimore/Washington- Cincinnati via Willard and Deshler. A lot of that is trail now. It's time to start putting the rail back in.

  • In reply to jimshoe77:

    Back in the days when crystal balls weren't foretelling the railroad renaissance, Rails to Trails seemed a good way to avoid some of the abandonment stigma, controversy and adverse publicity. Now we wish we had some of the trails restored to rail use but good luck with that.........

    My *** is that these tails are being built with transportation funds, in the face of deteriorating infrastructure nationwide.  What's really bing built s a recreation or maybe health facility and that's where the funding should come from.

    The good news is that in many cases at least the trails are named for the railroad, preserving some of the history........

  • In reply to FSAdams:

    In urban areas, trails have the potential to be significant elements of _transportation_ infrastructure.  It is in urban areas where biking as transportation has significant possibilities, able to achieve mode share of 15% or more of all household trips.  Given that today, 15% of all trips are by walking and biking, it's reasonable to spend more money than has been being spent on these modes--maybe not 15% since $ for $, biking and walking infrastructure is a lot cheaper to create.  But in any case, our currently road-centric transportation paradigm is not sustainable.

    Read the new book _Straphangers_ by Grescoe...

  • Exactly right. Believe there similiar views on the Seminole Gulf (ex SAL) Venice- Sarasota line , the issue being light rail vs walking trail. The plan was to coexist but the train advocates wanted the trail in the middle of the ROW instead of on the side which would have permitted both . Understand thankfully Florida law provides that the ROW can be reclaimed for transportation purposes. Also it is my understanding that the environmentalists do not want the UP to double track for California - Las Vegas service account of some rare tortise in the desert . Guess  they prefer pollution from autos to a clean train.  Guess they are down on rails just like they are on building the much needed Keystone Pipeline .

  • Exactly right. Believe there similiar views on the Seminole Gulf (ex SAL) Venice- Sarasota line , the issue being light rail vs walking trail. The plan was to coexist but the train advocates wanted the trail in the middle of the ROW instead of on the side which would have permitted both . Understand thankfully Florida law provides that the ROW can be reclaimed for transportation purposes. Also it is my understanding that the environmentalists do not want the UP to double track for California - Las Vegas service account of some rare tortise in the desert . Guess  they prefer pollution from autos to a clean train.  Guess they are down on rails just like they are on building the much needed Keystone Pipeline .

  • In reply to Clinchfield:

    Revised. I meant to say the "trail" advocates and not the "train" wanted the trail in the middle of the ROW. Forgive the yypo please !!!!!

  • Well as far as  I understand it  where there was double track and now just single track CSX wants the bike trail to be 100 or more feet from the track.."rails with trails". And where there was double track the trend was to move the the trcak more twards the center.  As far as bikes being a alternate form of relible public transportation I live and work in cities that have lake effect cold weather and is only good for a dozen or so days out of the year. Most people that use public transpotaion  where I live are also on some form of public assistance and are overweight and disabled and could not get on a bike if there life depended on it. Heck the bus can bearly get up to speed with 20 morbaledly obese folks on it. The driver has to tell passengers to alternate sides of the bus so it does not tip over.Big Smile.  Those who promote bikes are elitist and assume that everyone is thin and healthy and rides 1000.00 Canondales to work. In Indy. IN the Monon Trail was built to the fairgrounds and quicly became known as the Muggers Trail. The local certian ethnic hoodlums in the projects jumped a Yuppie CFO on his bike comking home from the office and put him in a coma for a few weeks. Now if there was light rail on this line instead of a bike trail more of those same people from the projects would use it to get to the many service jobs downtown and at the airport. Most real working people who dont sit at desks and shuffles boxes on pallest and push mops all day the last thing they want to do id peddle 15 miles home in all sorts of nasty weather. Perhaps like Bethesda the bike trail elitists want the trail and keep it a trail so that poor certain ethinic people dont ride the train and keep them out and rasing there standerds up and then actulay condiser geting a house in "there' hood. Now dont get me wrong I love bikes and bike trails but I can only think of a handfull of real commuter bike trails in the USA. Minuteman Trail from Lexington MA to the Orange Line, Arlington VA to Downtown DC and the Lake Shore Trail in Chicago. I have ridden and enjoyed them. The Miniteman should have been commuter rail about 10 years ago is is owned by MBTA (was commuter rail under Boston and Maine), The EL train from Northwestern and Loyala is so freekin slow that I could walk there faster and often the AC is broke so its a real hell on rails in the summer and the Arlington Trail has nice scenery in the summer expercilay the two legged kind.Cool

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                   Don’t confuse what NIMBY’s say with what the law requires.  The whole point of the Trails Act is to suspend abandonment so that the right-of-way is not lost as a transportation asset.  Sure, people object to trails being removed, just as people object to trails being built and object to railroads being abandoned and object to railroads being built. Remember how communities on the South Shore of Boston complained that the restoration of passenger service would change the historic nature of their communities?  Notwithstanding the fact that trains had operated there for over a hundred years.  There may be conflict between trail users and rail advocates, but the law and the existence of a trail ensure that the right-of-way remains available for future rail use and is not piecemealed among adjoining land owners.


                   I am Chairman of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and a former railroad President.  At RTC, we recognize that the law requires that railbanked trails yield to rails if that becomes necessary. (It is a pity that many rights-of-way were lost before railbanking became possible.  And many trails were built without railbanking and are not subject to recapture for rail use). As a practical matter, it is often possible to construct trails with rails as has been done in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and numerous other places.  Don’t knock trails.  Besides being directly useful, they are often the only way to preserve any possibility for the return of rail service.

  • In reply to CharlieMarshall:

    Thanks, Charlie, it always helps to have some facts. Do you have any idea about how many former trails have been re-established as railroads?  When I was in collage in Boston back in the 1960's, I used to write about the terrible loss New England would suffer if the rights of way at that time continued to be broken up as the railroads abandoned lines left and right.  Rails to Trails must have started about that time but I was not aware of it. Again, thanks for clarification.

  • In reply to oamundsen:

    Not many, I believe.  I know that one of our railroads re-established service on a two-mile line in Quebec and moved the trail to the side.  There are about ten cases of lines that were railbanked under the Trails Act and later returned to rail service before any trail was built.  There is a current dispute about construction of the Purple Line in Washington on an active trail that was once a B&O branch.  The dispute reflects human nature.  The point, however is that the Purple Line could not even have been proposed without the trail having preserved the right-of-way.

  • Rail trails are becoming an end unto themselves, largely promoted by trail advocates and NIMBYs who just want more trails. It was naive of the rail industry to assume that "banked" dormant rail lines would ever be reactivated without major battles. We have an active rail line here on Long Island, New York which is used to move freight and MOW equipment through an affluent community in which residents adjacent to the ROW want it shut down permanently. Everyone who owns property along the ROW knew well of the rail line, they just don't want it, period. Its much like buying a house near an airport and then complaining that planes are taking off and landing; I've heard that one too. As the demand for cheaper, greener transportation grows, rail lines should be reactivated and new ones built to serve critical areas. Converting truly abandoned lines into rail trails when reactivation is unfeasible is often beneficial to communities that can afford them (yes, rail trails are public properties that must be maintained by someone at some cost). Railroads should learn from the past and stop being manipulated by every level of government, resisting the rail trail coercion whenever possible.    

  • In reply to mikemce:

    The original post was about the Adirondack commision objected to freight being transported from a mine on the North Creek RR (ex D&H) to the Interchange @ Saratoga. The mine has garnet (used on sandpaper) and titanium and by shutting down the railroad line they feel that they can keep the mine from reopening.

    By the way I have seen that N/S line on Long Island on a map and wonder why no passenger trains use that line. Seems to be a need for N/S trains on the island as well as light rail. Theres more people on Long Island then 20 of our US States.

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