• Concurrent Use/Demapping

  • General discussion related to Rail Trails nationwide, including proposed rail trail routes. The official site of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy can be found here: www.railstotrails.org.
General discussion related to Rail Trails nationwide, including proposed rail trail routes. The official site of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy can be found here: www.railstotrails.org.

Moderator: railtrailbiker

  by Jeff Smith
Here is an excellent blog by a friend which covers to some extent rail trails and demapping:

Thoughts on Minneapolis' Stone Arch Bridge and the Hiawatha Line’s Downtown East – Metrodome station

I've got a long comment I'll copy here in full:

This is where my preoccupation with the Beacon line comes in. They’ve allowed most if not all of it (at least the Beacon to Dykemans portion) to have a trail alongside it. Although the line still has rails, it is OOS. I guess you could say in a way it’s been “railbanked”. This is the term CDOT uses for the lines it’s purchased in CT, but are OOS with rails still in place.

There’s been talkin of continuing the trail north of Dykemans along the Wassaic extension. I’m not familiar with how this would work, but there have been train-ped fatalaties up there, so I would assume they’d need additional land and fencing. This presents safety issues to trains and passengers in case of mechanical breakdown, fire, etc. and the ability of passengers and crew to evacuate and rescue crews to reach the train.

North of Wassaic (AMENIA!) is the old ROW, now a rail trail. I think this must run all the way to Chatham, or is close to doing so. I don’t knokw who owns this ROW. The rails to Millerton were extant for a while after the MNRR takeover and I guess there was freight service up there for some time. Has the title been transferred, or is the ROW “land-banked”, to use another railroad/CDOT term? That gives the “right” to restore rail service. But as you’ve said, it would be extremely difficult to restore service along a popular trail.

Which brings me lastly to the North/South County trailway on the old Put division. Clearly, rail will never run there again, as I’m sure it’s abandonment pre-dated rail trail laws. There are only stub tracks/wyes left at each end. But could Putnam county decide it wants a rail trail to connect from the top of the North County trailway to the Dutchess rail trail via Dykemans? Pretty tough with the yard right there.
I guess what I'd like to discuss is:

=What if MNRR wanted Millerton back? Although highly doubtful, could they do it?

=What happens when a rail trail runs along an inactive rail line, rails still in place, and they want to reactivate it?

=What provisions are there when someone wants to put a rail trail next to an ACTIVE line?
  by umtrr-author
First, I've walked the Minneapolis Stone Arch Bridge and it was very nice. Though I don't see this (ever) happening, I think there probably is room for light rail to co-exist with pedestrians and bicycles-- though it might be tight.

Moving to the original questions... I think there's a very remote chance of anything being rebuilt along any commuter line. The NIMBYs will come out in force, the environmental studies will take years and the current attitude toward building any mass transit of any kind is probably about to become more hostile than ever. Could they do it? Sure, anything's possible with enough money, but I can't imagine the cost/benefit analysis making any sense.

I am hardly an expert about such things, but the only example I can come up with where a trail currently co-exists with an active rail line is the Western Maryland Scenic Railway, and I had to check to confirm even this. (Yes, I know it's Wikipedia, but this is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegheny_ ... f_Maryland .) Are there any other examples out there?
  by RussNelson
The north end of the Zim Smith trail goes next to the CP main in Ballston Spa. South of there the Ballston Bike Trail runs next to the same line, but the two trails stop about 1km short of connecting. The Zim Smith trail (former D&H) has a fence separating it from the CP. The Ballston Bike Trail is the Schnectady Railway (trolley) line, which was far enough from the CP main that there is no fence.
  by The EGE
I see no reason why anything other than a 6-foot fence is needed to separate trains from a trail. In Groton, CT, a trail between Bluff Point and Haley Farm parks runs along the NEC ROW; the only separation between the active trail and the 90mph electrified corridor is the fence. The trail, 2 tracks, and an access road fit into 55ft of ROW.
  by toolmaker
Why block potential photographs with more fence than needed? A shorter fence, tall enough to keep small kids and pets from reaching the track should be enough.
  by The EGE
People will hop three-foot fences for all sorts of stupid reasons. A six-foot fence, with mesh too small to get a foothold in, will keep out casual adult trespassers.
  by mtuandrew
I feel that the Northern Pacific #9 bridge was neglected as a candidate for demapping, back here in the Twin Cities. My main argument to it being a pedestrian-only crossing is that while it does connect both sides of the University of Minnesota campus, it is also duplicated by the 10th Avenue bridge just upstream and the Washington Avenue bridge just downstream. The bridge is moderately used by pedestrians, but I think it would have been much more useful as a heavily-used transit corridor.

The first opportunity would have been with Minneapolis' desire to regain passenger rail in the 1990s. The Stone Arch bridge serves very well as a pedestrian and bicycle corridor and I wouldn't seriously consider demapping it, but the NP bridge would have been able to connect the Milwaukee Road station (or a new station on the site of the demolished GN station) with active rail, for Amtrak use and for commuter rail service. With the development of the Downtown East area without leaving possible railroad rights-of-way, and of course the eventual conversion of the Milwaukee Road Depot into a hotel, that opportunity was lost. Likewise, during the construction of the Central Corridor LRT service the designers considered, but ultimately rejected, the NP #9 as its Mississippi River crossing. It would have presented a lower-cost (though some would argue lower-utility) line through the University of Minnesota campus, and the bridge itself would have required far less reconstruction than the Washington Avenue bridge is currently undergoing.
  by gokeefe
The Purple Line in Maryland appears to be a genuine example of reactivation ...

See here:
The Bethesda station itself will be where the trail under Wisconsin Avenue used to be, in a box underneath a skyscraper that is under construction. That box is scheduled to be completed and handed over to the Purple Line team by March to begin work on the platforms, tracks, escalators and other features.