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What is a rail trail?

Rail trails are multi-purpose public paths created from former railroad corridors. They are typically flat or follow a gentle grade. Ideal for many uses, rail trails are extremely popular as recreation and alternative transportation corridors. Rail trails also serve as conservation corridors, linking isolated parks and natural areas, and creating greenways through developed areas. They are often used to help preserve historic landmarks.


What is railbanking?

Rail-banking, as defined by the National Trails System Act, 16 USC 1247 (d), is a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and a trail agency to use an out-of-service rail corridor as a trail until a railroad might need the corridor again for rail service.


How likely is it that a trail corridor will be reactivated for rail service?

According to a Rails-to-Trails spokesperson, there are 353 rail-banked corridors totaling 5,700 miles of recreational trails nationwide. The idea of a railroad needing to reactivate a corridor is very rare, only 2-3% of the time. Only once has a developed trail been reactivated.


Do rail trails attract crime and vandalism?

There is no evidence that developed rail trails cause an increase in crime. In fact, trail development may actually decrease the risk of crime in comparison to an abandoned and undeveloped rail corridor. Several studies show that most people prefer living along a rail trail rather than an abandoned corridor. Typically, lawful trail users serve as eyes and ears for the community, discouraging unlawful activity. Police patrols are also conducted on the trail to discourage illegal activities and uses.


How will being adjacent to a rail trail affect property values?

From studies of existing trails reported by the National Trail Conservancy, 64% of adjacent landowners believe that the trail has no effect on the resale value, with 28% believing that the land value increased as a result of the trail. 71% of realtors and appraisers believe that the trail has no effect on adjacent residential property with 19% believing that the property value increases. On well-used rail trails, it is common to find property "for sale" signs not just in front of a property, but also facing the trail, in order to catch the attention of trail users who highly value having immediate access to a trail system.

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