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Integrating Rail-Trails into Statewide and Metropolitan Long Range Plan

This report is from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, published in the the early 1990s. This document is disseminated in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of information contained in this document. The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not reflect the official policy of the U.S. Department of Transportation.



Click HERE for graphic.




                               Preface

     This paper has been developed for transportation planners and
policymakers in state Departments of Transportation (DOTS) and
Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOS) who are engaged in
intermodal, multi-modal, and bicycle and pedestrian planning. As
called for by ISTEA, these agencies are in the process of developing
new Long Range Plans by January 1, 1995. This document outlines the
goals, policies and ongoing planning activities that Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy (RTC) recommends be included in every state and
metropolitan Long Range Plan. It is provided by RTC as a service to
planners and policymakers because the railtrail planning process is
new, complex and often not well understood.


Why Rail-trails?

     Rail-trails -- bicycle and pedestrian facilities which are
developed along abandoned railroad corridors and rails-with-trails --
active rail lines that incorporate adjacent pathways for non-
motorized modes -- provide the bicycle and pedestrian options
America's communities are seeking for convenient and efficient
intermodal transportation.  Nationwide, 72 percent of all Americans
have reported wanting a community-based planning structure which
makes walking, running or bicycling an integral part of their area's
transportation system. And in heavily populated or developed areas,
railroad corridors represent some of the only open space that remains
for trail development. In addition, rail-trail development is often
cheaper than any other method of trail creation.


Why Now?

     RTC recognizes that unless rail corridor preservation and rail-
trail conversion are institutionalized in the new transportation
planning process, most of the rail corridors that will be abandoned
in coming years will be lost forever for transportation purposes.  At
the rate rail corridors are now being abandoned -- 2,000 miles per
year nationwide -- inadequate preparation for preservation of these
corridors translates into a lost opportunity to create a vast, close-
to-home, trail system serving America's urban suburban and rural
communities.


(1) Louis Harris Poll, Rodale Press, 1992, Page 3.





                    Why Trails as Transportation?

ISTEA Creates a Rationale for Pro-Active Rail-Trail Planning

     Three key components of the Intermodal Surface Transportation
Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) make a clear case for establishing a
proactive approach to rail-trail planning both in Long Range Plans
(LRPS) and in the ongoing planning activities of state Departments
of Transportation (DOTS) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations
(MPOs).

1.   ISTEA emphasizes intermodalism. An intermodal approach to
transportation planning demands attention to the connectivity of
various transportation modes and facilities, as well as ample
consideration of each of these modes individually. Congress has
been particularly concerned that bicycle and pedestrian needs be
considered in an intermodal approach to transportation, and these
modes are explicitly identified in ISTEA in reference to
Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) development and the
preparation of Long Range Plans.

     Not only does ISTEA mandate the establishment of Bicycle and
Pedestrian Coordinators at the state level, but the "Final Rules"
governing the transportation planning process jointly released in
the Fall of 1993 by the Federal Highway and Federal Transit
Administrations) require that both State and MPO Long Range Plans
include a specific bicycle and pedestrian element.

2.   ISTEA significantly broadens funding eligibility for bicycle
and pedestrian facilities. Although the Enhancements program
specifically targets rail-trails and other bicycle and pedestrian
facilities, non-motorized transportation projects need not be
confirmed to this program for funding. In fact, most of the money
available through ISTEA can be used for nonmotorized transportation
projects. ISTEA funding programs for which bicycle/pedestrian
projects are eligible include:

National Highway System 
Bridge Program
Scenic Byways Program
Federal Transit Funding
Highway Safety Programs
Surface Transportation Program & Enhancements Set-Aside
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement
Program
Federal Lands Highway Program
National Recreational Trails Fund


3.   The Planning Factors set forth in ISTEA sections 1024 and 1025
include provisions which can be directly linked to rail corridor
acquisition and rail-trail development. ISTEA Planning Regulations
stipulate that states and MPOs must "explicitly consider each
factor, analyze each as appropriate, and reflect each of the
factors... " in the Long Range Plan document.

     Among those factors which must be considered, a majority cite
concerns


                                  1





Why Trails as Transportation? (cont.)


     that directly relate to rail-trails -- most significantly the
     notion of transportation corridor preservation. Factor (17)
     for states and (10) for MPOs requires planners to consider the
     "Preservation of rights-of-way for construction of future
     transportation projects, -including identification of unused
     rights-of-way which may be needed for future transportation
     corridors, and (to) identify those corridors for which action
     is most needed to prevent destruction or loss."

          The explicit language of the above Planning Factor should
     lead states to establish an aggressive railroad corridor
     preservation program. Recycling abandoned railroad corridors
     into trails efficiently preserves these corridors as
     transportation facilities.  This factor specifically
     recognizes the importance of planning for the protection of
     rail corridors. Failure to plan for railbanking and other
     means of corridor preservation means valuable transportation
     right-of-way will be lost forever through reversion and
     development.

          Other Planning Factors cite concerns that relate directly
     to rail-trails, including the consideration of national
     environmental goals regarding clean air, clean water and
     energy conservation; the overall social, economic and land use
     impacts of transportation investments; and recreational travel
     and tourism. A list of these factors and their direct
     correlation to rail-trails is detailed beginning on page 10.


     We believe these three components of ISTEA -- an emphasis on
intermodalism, the broadening of funding eligibility, and the
Planning Factors -- offer a compelling argument for making rail-
corridor preservation and rail-trail development a priority in Long
Range Plans. The remainder of this document is intended to assist
planners in establishing planning activities and policies to reach
that goal.


                                  2





Policy Recommendations for Inclusion in the Long Range Plan


     The following list offers policy proposals which will
facilitate a pro-active approach to rail-trails in the state (MPO)
Long Range Plan.

1) Railroad Corridor Preservation Policy. It shall be the policy of
the state (MPO) to actively plan for and pursue preservation of
abandoned railroad corridors. Using an interagency task force, an
early warning process shall be established to prevent loss of
prioritized corridors.

2) Rail-Trail Development Policy. Through a needs analysis and
inclusion in the bicycle and pedestrian element of the Long Range
Plan, the state (MPO) shall consider reuse and redevelopment of
these corridors for bicycling and walking, or other public use. It
shall be recognized that rail-trails can form the core of a
statewide (regional trail and greenway system that serves both non-
motorized transportation and recreation needs.

3) Corridor Assessment. Within one year of enactment of this plan
the state (MPO) shall conduct a comprehensive assessment of active,
inactive and abandoned railroad corridors in order to identify
potential corridors for preservation through railbanking and rail-
trail conversion. For those corridors where rail use is current,
the development of rail-with-trail shall be considered.

3) Flexible Funding. When determining how to fund a rail-trail
project, the state (MPO) shall urge transportation planners and
decisionmakers to consider all eligible ISTEA funding categories,
not only Transportation Enhancements. (See page 1 for a list of
other eligible ISTEA sources.)

4) Transportation Enhancements.
     a) On an annual basis, the state shall set aside a contingency
fund using a small portion of Transportation Enhancement funds for
"unexpected" rail corridor acquisition opportunities. This amount
shall be explicitly set aside due to the fact that critical
acquisition opportunities may be lost if all rail-trail acquisition
projects are required to be considered only within the pre-
established Transportation Enhancements selection process and TIP
approval time frames. b) Furthermore, the state (MPO) shall include
citizens on the advisory committee that participates in
Transportation Enhancements project selection and shall ensure that
at least one member of this committee is knowledgeable and
experienced in the rail-trail conversion process.

5) Design Standards. The state shall, with respect to trail and
bicycle/pedestrian bridge design, establish design standards,
contracting procedures, and engineering specifications that allow
for procurement of "design-build" structures and promote efficient
expenditure of ISTEA funds while ensuring high quality projects.



                                  3





                 Exemplary State Rail-Trail Policies

Effective Methods for Corridor Preservation and Trail Development

     RTC research into state rail-trail policy shows that when a
state government explicitly commits to policies promoting rail-
trail acquisition and development, a greater number of corridors
are preserved and an effective and well-used trail system is
created.  The goal for a statewide rail corridor preservation
policy should be No Net Loss of Corridors!

     More specifically, strong rail corridor preservation policy
should 1) standardize the process of evaluation and assessment of a
corridor's potential for continued public use, 2) provide a
structure so that the corridor remains intact and available during
this evaluation process, and 3) ensure that no abandoned corridor
is lost to public use without full knowledge of all affected, or
potentially affected parties.

     In some states, this type of policy is established by
legislative action; in other states the Governor or the executive
boards overseeing the Departments of Transportation, Natural
Resources, or Tourism and Parks determine rail corridor
preservation policy. Regardless of who sets policy in your state,
the appropriate policy recommendations for rail-trails in your Long
Range Transportation Plan can be influential in establishing an
effective statewide policy.

     Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Texas are states that have all
taken advantage of establishing a proactive railbanking policy as a
component of their state's rail-trail policy. Railbanking, a
provision outlined under Section 8(d) of the National Trails System
Act (1983), allows corridors proposed for abandonment to be
preserved intact or put in a "bank" for future transportation use. 
In the meantime, these corridors can be used as trails. Any
qualified private organization or public agency can file for
railbanking by submitting a statement of willingness to assume
financial responsibility with the Interstate Commerce Commission
and the railroad. (A party filing this statement does not accept
any financial responsibility for the corridor; it is merely
expressing an interest in doing so.) Railbanking is a valuable tool
that serves to simplify the potentially complicated railroad
property acquisition process. For more information on the use of
railbanking for corridor protection and trail development, and a
complete explanation of the procedures involved, refer to RTC's
publication Secrets of Successful Rail-Trails: An Acquisition and
Organizing Manual for Converting Rails into Trails. (See page 9.)

     The following examples illustrate a variety of effective
approaches to rail corridor protection and trail development at the
state level:

Wisconsin
     Wisconsin has a policy which sets forth a cascading right of
first refusal. The primary responsibility for preserving abandoned
railroad rights-of-way rests with the Wisconsin Department of
Transportation. Under state law, the Department of Transportation
can



                                  4





State Rail-Trail Policies (cont.)


exercise its right of first refusal or, if the Department of
Transportation has no immediate use for the corridor, it can assign
this right to any other state agency, any county or city, or any
transit commission. Furthermore, the state's Natural Resources
Board has adopted a resolution recognizing the value of abandoned
railroad rights-of-way for the orderly growth of the state traits
program. A structure providing for close cooperation among the
Department of Transportation, the Department of Natural Resources
and the state's counties and cities ensures that almost all
abandoned railroad corridors in the state are railbanked under
section 8(d) of the National Trails System Act and preserved for
trail use.

     The strength of Wisconsin's policy is evident in the 756 miles
of developed rail-trails that crisscross the state. An additional
300 miles of preserved corridor is now awaiting trail conversion. 
Wisconsin leads all states in rail-trail miles developed, and is
fourth in number of rail-trails, with forty-one.

Connecticut
     In Connecticut, the State Department of Transportation (DOT)
established a policy to acquire all major abandoned railroad
corridors that "exhibit a future [transportation] potential or are
contiguous rights of way connecting major urban areas. "The policy
is strengthened by a state legislative act which established the
state's right of first refusal for abandoned rail corridors. To
implement this, the Bureau of Public Transportation within the DOT
monitors corridor abandonments and recommends purchases either for
"railbanking" or "landbanking." Connecticut does not use federal
railbanking procedures, but purchases abandoned corridors and
applies its own designations. In Connecticut, railbanking means the
DOT will purchase the line with tracks and ties intact for re-use
as a railroad, while landbanking means the railroad will be allowed
to salvage tracks and ties before the DOT purchases the corridor.


Texas
     Texas has a strong corridor preservation policy which was
established by executive order of the Governor. The order created
the Interagency Abandoned Rail Corridor Committee whose objective
is to ensure that all abandoned rail rights-of-way undergo a timely
and thorough evaluation process for continued public use. Factors
considered in this evaluation include current and future
transportation needs, recreational opportunities, economic impacts,
and agricultural needs. The Interagency Committee is fully
authorized to file for railbanking under section 8(d) of the
National Trails System Act on each abandonment in the state of
Texas in order to preserve the corridor for trail use.


                                  5





                  An Outline of Planning Activities
that will Advance Rail-Trail Acquisition and Development

1.   Preliminary Corridor Assessment

     a.   Identify railroad corridors. The first step toward
          corridor preservation is to map and assess all rail
          corridors, including those that have been abandoned and
          those that are still active. [It is possible that this
          mapping has been done by planners within the Rail
          Division of the state Department of Transportation ---
          check with this agency of the state DOT.  However, it is
          unlikely that this map has been analyzed to determine the
          rail system's potential for providing nonmotorized
          transportation in the form of trails.]
               Railroads are required to produce yearly System
          Diagram Maps that identify which lines currently are
          slated to be abandoned.  Unfortunately, rail corridors
          that have little or no traffic may be exempted from the
          System Diagram Map, and therefore never show up on these
          otherwise useful resources. In order to determine which
          rail corridors are likely to be abandoned through
          exemption procedures, planners need to determine the
          frequency of freight rail traffic on these lines. State
          DOTs often produce freight rail density figures for rail
          corridors within the state. A rail corridor is vulnerable
          to being abandoned if it has had little or no traffic for
          at least two years or if it has only one low-volume
          shipper. Since 60 - 70 percent of rail corridors are
          abandoned through the exemption process, advance
          knowledge of these marginal lines will make a statewide
          or regional rail corridor assessment much more complete.
               Other resources that can help in the mapping and
          preliminary assessment process include RTC's corridor
          assessments for thirteen major U.S. metropolitan areas,
          and Right-of-Way: A Guide to Abandoned Corridors in the
          United States, a published guide to abandoned railroad
          corridors. (For a list of RTC publications, please see
          page 9.)

          b. Involve the public and representatives from other
          agencies.  Local citizens, trail user groups, trail
          advocates, parks and recreation planners (especially the
          State Trails Coordinator) and local public officials
          should all be involved in the corridor identification and
          mapping process. Include these same persons in the
          process of assessing and prioritizing corridors for trail
          use.

          c. Prioritize corridors in terms of potential for trail 
          development and or future transportation purposes. Three
          criteria to be considered in a preliminary assessment are
          transportation linkages, corridor availability, and
          physical suitability:
          1) Examine the transportation linkages these corridors
          could offer between residential neighborhoods, employment
          centers, commercial districts, educational facilities,
          recreation areas, historic sites, and intermodal
          transportation facilities.



                                  6





Outline of Planning Activities (cont.)


     2) Assess the likelihood that a corridor may soon be abandoned
     (see 1a. above), or if it has already been abandoned,
     determine its ownership status.
     3) Evaluate the suitability of the corridor for conversion to
     a trail based on factors including width, nature of adjoining
     land uses and other environmental considerations.

          For more information on conducting corridor assessments, 
     meeting needs of adjacent landowners, evaluating the
     suitability of a corridor for conversion, and maximizing a
     trail's potential, see Trails for the Twenty-First Century, an
     RTC publication which serves as the authoritative source on
     all aspects of planning, designing and managing multi-use
     trails.

     d. Consider the possibilities for trail development where rail
     use continues. In corridors where public transit or commuter
     rail use exists or is a future priority, consider development
     of trails along active rail lines. Rails-with-trails are not
     only an excellent opportunity for the development of
     additional bicycle and pedestrian facilities, but have proven
     successful in improving access to transit when stations are
     isolated or are spaced at lengthy intervals. For more
     information about rails-with-trails see RTC's publication,
     Rails-with-Trails: Sharing Corridors for Recreation and
     Transportation.

2.   Incorporate Prioritized Corridors and Consulting Needs into
     the Long Range Plan

     a. Identify specific rail-trail projects in the LRP. 
     Potential rail-trails should be identified as part of the
     bicycle and pedestrian element of the Long Range Plan for MPOs
     and States, as well as in comprehensive city and county plans.
     Include information regarding each trail's potential
     contribution to the region as an intermodal transportation
     option.

     b. Plan for the appropriate assistance. If your region or
     state needs outside assistance in conducting a thorough
     assessment of active, inactive, and likely-to be abandoned
     rail corridors, include provisions for this in the Long Range
     Plan.

3.   Establish an Early Warning Process

     a. Close the loop. Since railroad abandonments often occur on
     short notice, make sure the appropriate persons in your region
     or state learn immediately of any upcoming rail abandonment.
     Railroads are required to give notice of upcoming abandonments
     to 1) designated regional representatives of federal



                                  7





Outline of Planning Activities (cont.)


     agencies (National Park Service, Department of Defense, etc.),
     2) state governments (Governor's office, Department of
     Transportation, State Historic Preservation Officer, etc.) and
     3) local governments. Identify which individuals and agencies
     in your region are already receiving advance notice of these
     abandonments, and ensure that a process exists whereby this
     information is disseminated quickly and efficiently to
     potentially affected parties, including trail advocacy and
     user groups.

          It may be most efficient to create a multi-agency rail 
     abandonment task force that includes citizen participation and
     to designate this task force as the official state recipient
     of abandonment notices. For more information, refer to Secrets
     of Successful Rail-Trails, an RTC publication which offers
     step-by-step advice on involving citizens and engaging all
     potentially affected parties in the rail-to-trail process.

     b. Sponsor a seminar on the railroad abandonment process.  In
     order to ensure success in the rail-trail conversion process,
     educate citizen-group and agency leaders regarding the legal
     issues involved, the railbanking process, how to negotiate
     with railroads, and how to meet the needs of adjacent
     landowners. Both agencies and citizen groups must be
     knowledgeable so that they are able to act effectively when a
     corridor comes up for abandonment.


   Rails-to-Trails Conservancy offers assistance with all of the 
strategies listed above, from technical assistance via telephone, 
to one-time seminars, to long-term consulting contracts. If you are
interested in pursuing any of the above activities or other steps
involved in the rail-trail process with RTC, please contact us
directly at (202) 797-5400:

Robert Patten, ISTEA, Transportation Enhancements, Intermodal
Planning

Marianne Fowler, State Rail-Trail Law and Policy, Federal
Legislation

Jeff Allen, Trail Development Issues, Studies and Statistics,
Rails-with-Trails, Trail Design

Philippe Crist, Railbanking, Negotiating with Railroads, Trail
Development Issues,
Trail Design

Amy Derry, National Policy Fellow



                                  8




Click HERE for graphic.



ISTEA Planning Factors for States

A Call for Corridor Preservation and Trail Development


     We believe it is important for states to plan for and fund the
development of rail-trails and greenway trails as a significant
component of meeting the bicycle/pedestrian facility planning
requirements of ISTEA. Ten of the twenty factors to be considered
by state DOTs in transportation planning are directly related to
rail-trail acquisition and greenway trail development. Furthermore,
the "explicit consideration" and appropriate analysis of these
factors, as called for in the Planning Regulations, should lead
states to adopt a strong policy for facilitating rail-trail
conversions and rail-with-trail development. These activities
should become a primary component of a larger bicycle and
pedestrian plan, and as such, be integrated into the state's LRP
for intermodal and multi-modal planning.

     The following ten factors for consideration in the state
transportation planning process have been highlighted as specific
recommendations which correspond directly to the development of
rail-trails and.other multi-use trails:

(2) "Any Federal, State, or local energy goals, objectives,
programs, or requirements.

     Because rail-trails encourage and facilitate non-motorized
transportation, they lessen our dependence on cars and foreign oil,
and benefit communities by lessening air and water pollution.
Research indicates that if safe facilities are provided, bicycle
transportation use would increase from 5 percent to 13 percent of
total trips.(2)

(3) "Strategies for incorporating bicycle transportation facilities
and pedestrian walkways in projects where appropriate throughout
the state."

     While rail-trails are usually developed independently from
highway projects, this factor suggests that wherever road and
highway projects cross or are adjacent to rail corridors, the
corridor's potential as a future trail must be considered in the
design and scope of the new highway project. In the design of new
transit facilities, consideration should be given to developing
trails alongside rail and transit lines. For each of these project
types, accommodations for bicycle and pedestrian underpasses and
overpasses should become a design priority in order to maximize
transit access and to minimize the bisection of neighborhoods.

(4) "International border crossings and points of access to ports,
airports, intermodal transportation facilities, major freight
distribution routes, national parks, recreation and scenic areas,
monuments and historic sites, and military installations."
     Rail-trails often provide the best opportunities for bicycle
and pedestrian access to frequented destinations such as those
listed above. In most communities these destinations do not now
have non-motorized access, yet many were once connected by an
active rail system. Re-connecting these facilities with bicycle and
pedestrian trails offers a non-polluting transportation option
which will also help to relieve traffic congestion in surrounding
areas.


__________________
(2) Louis Harris Poll, Rodale Press, 1992, p.5.



10




(8)  "Recreational travel and tourism."

     Especially in exurban communities, small towns and rural
areas, rail-trails act as major destinations for tourism and as
principal facilities for recreational travel. In central Missouri,
the Katy Trail is the second most popular state park in the entire
state; this rail-trail was visited by over 200,000 people last year
and generated over $3 million in local revenue.
     Rail-trails, as in Wisconsin and in Iowa, can also become the
core of a statewide recreational trail and bicycle touring system.
In these mid-western states, rail-trails have simultaneously
provided economic benefits and improved health and fitness to
residents alongside these trails. By drawing tourist attention to
their cherished local natural resources in an environmentally
sustainable manner, rail- and greenway trails highlight local
beauty as they help to preserve it.

(10) "Transportation system management and investment strategies
designed to make the most efficient use of existing transportation
facilities."
     Recycling abandoned railroad corridors by developing them into
trails efficiently preserves these corridors as transportation
facilities. Furthermore, the railbanking provision in the National
Trails System Act provides a mechanism for preserving abandoned
rail corridors intact and encourages trail development as an
interim use.
     Another option for using existing transportation facilities
and rights-of-way more efficiently is to develop rails-with-trails.
In this case, bicycle and pedestrian trails alongside existing rail
lines can improve the efficiency of the state's transportation
infrastructure by utilizing existing 'train-only' corridors for
more than one mode of transportation. (RTC has documented 20
existing rails-with-trails projects now operating throughout the
U.S., with an additional 25 projects in the works.)

(11) "The overall social, economic, energy and environmental
effects of transportation decisions.
     With over 550 rail-trails now being used for transportation
and recreation purposes across the United States, there are
hundreds of communities and hundreds of thousands of people who can
testify to the positive impacts of rail-trail development in their
communities. primary among them are: an increase in community
livability and property values, an increase in transportation
options, booming trail-side businesses, an increase in personal
health and fitness, tourism development, scenic beautification, and
improved air and water quality.  For urban, suburban, and rural
communities across America, multiuse trail development for
recreation and transportation has proven to be a win-win solution
for communities seeking answers to their social, economic, energy-
related, and environmental problems.

(12) "Methods to reduce traffic congestion and to prevent traffic
congestion from developing in areas where it does not yet occur,
including methods which reduce motor vehicle travel, particularly
single occupant motor vehicle travel."

     Rail-trails encourage and facilitate fast and efficient non-
motorized transportation, and thus provide sorely needed
alternatives to the single occupant automobile. Bicycling and
walking may never meet all of the transportation needs currently
met by motor vehicles, but in combination with transit, intercity
buses, and trains, rail-trails can provide a viable alternative for
many trips now taken by single-occupant autos.


                                 11



(13) "Methods to expand and enhance transit services and to
increase the use of such services.
     Bicycle and pedestrian facilities serve as the "connective
tissue" of a truly intermodal transportation system. Since most
trips involve a pedestrian element at the beginning, end, and at
any transfer station, safe and convenient walkways are essential.
Trails will expand the ridership for transit stations which draw
pedestrians from a limited quarter-mile radius but are able to
attract bicyclists from as far as a two-mile radius.
     Developing multi-use trails alongside rail transit and
commuter rail services can significantly increase access to the
service. Trails provide easy bicycle and walking access to stations
from multiple points along a corridor -- an option which proves
especially beneficial when stations are spaced at lengthy
intervals. In large cities where passenger rail use continues in
old rail yards, abandoned spurs and redundant trackage can often be
converted to trails which will provide greater access to the
passenger and transit services.

(14) "The effect of transportation decisions on land use and land
development, including the need for consistency between
transportation decisionmaking and the provisions of all applicable
short-range and long-range land use and development plans."
     Rail-trails can be a key component in community and economic
revitalization plans for the exhausted industrial corridors of the
inner city. In suburban areas, they can provide safe, direct, non-
motorized transportation options where traffic volume and the
nature of street and highway development has made bicycling and
walking circuitous, unappealing and dangerous. Trails can play a
key role in making new, mixed-use developments designed around
transit, bicycling and walking effective in the short-term and
sustainable in the long-term.

(17) "Preservation of rights-of-way for construction of future
transportation projects, including identification of unused rights-
of-way which may be needed for future transportation corridors, and
identify those corridors for which action is most needed to prevent
destruction or loss."
     Above all others, consideration of this factor should lead
states to establish an aggressive railroad corridor preservation
program. While some corridors may best serve their communities as
roads, highways or rail transit, a corridor preservation program
true to ISTEA must include a strong priority for rail-trail
conversion as well as requirements to include trails in all new
road and transit projects along abandoned corridors. If adequate
planning for the protection of rail corridors is not done in
advance, these corridors can be lost forever as multi-modal
facilities through reversion and development. Trail planning
decisions should be part of the Long Range Plan so that a trail
group or agency has the power to respond quickly to preserve the
right-of-way when made aware of an impending abandonment.



12




ISTEA Planning Factors for MPOs

A Call for Corridor Preservation and Trail Development

     We believe it is important for MPOs to plan for and fund the
development of rail-trails and greenway trails as a significant
component of meeting the bicycle/pedestrian facility planning
requirements of ISTEA. Nine of the fifteen factors ISTEA
specifically lists for consideration in Metropolitan Planning are
directly related to rail-trail acquisition and greenway trail
development. Furthermore, the "explicit consideration" and
appropriate analysis of these factors, as called for in the
Planning Regulations, should lead MPOs to adopt a strong local
policy for facilitating rail-trail conversions and rail-with-trail
development.  These activities should become a primary component of
a larger bicycle and pedestrian plan, and as such, be integrated
into the region's LRP for internodal and multi-modal planning.

     The following nine factors which must be considered in
developing metropolitan transportation plans correspond directly to
the development of rail-trails and other multi-use trails:

(1) "Preservation of existing transportation facilities and, where
practical, ways to meet transportation needs by using existing
transportation facilities more efficiently."
     Recycling abandoned railroad corridors by developing them into
trails efficiently preserves these corridors as transportation
facilities. Furthermore, the railbanking provision in the National
Trails System Act provides a mechanism for preserving abandoned
rail corridors intact and encourages trail development as an
interim use.
     Another option for using existing transportation facilities
and rights-of-way more efficiently is by developing rails-with-
trails.  In this case, bicycle and pedestrian trails alongside
existing rail lines can improve the efficiency of the region's
transportation infrastructure by utilizing existing "train-only"
corridors for more than one mode of transportation. (RTC has
documented 20 existing rails-with-trails projects now operating
throughout the U.S., with an additional 25 projects in the works.)

(2) "The consistency of transportation planning with applicable
Federal, State, and local energy conservation program, goals, and
objectives."

     Because rail-trails encourage and facilitate non-motorized
transportation, they lessen our dependence on cars and foreign oil,
and benefit communities by lessening air and water pollution. 
Research indicates that if safe facilities are provided, bicycle
transportation use would increase from 5 to 13 percent of total
trips.3

(3)  "The need to relieve congestion and prevent congestion from
occurring where it does not yet occur."

     Rail-trails encourage and facilitate fast and efficient non-
motorized transportation, and thus provide sorely needed
alternatives to the single occupant automobile. Bicycling and
walking may never meet all of the transportation needs currently
met by motor vehicles, but in combination with transit, intercity
buses, and trains, rail-trails can provide a viable alternative for
many trips now taken by single-occupant autos.

(3) Louis Harris Poll, Rodale Press, 1992, p.5.



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(4) "The likely effect of transportation policy decisions on land
use and development and the consistency of transportation plans and
programs with the provisions of all applicable short- and long-term
land use and development plans."
     Rail-trails can be a key component in community and economic
revitalization plans for the exhausted industrial corridors of the
inner city. In suburban areas, they can provide safe, direct, non-
motorized transportation options where traffic volume and the
nature of street and highway development has made bicycling and
walking circuitous, unappealing and dangerous. Trails play a key
role in making new, mixed-use developments designed around transit,
bicycling and walking effective in the short-term and sustainable
in the long-term.

(5)  "The programming of expenditures for transportation
enhancement activities."
     Rail-trail acquisition and development is one of the ten
enhancement activities established in ISTEA.

(7)  "International border crossings and access to ports, airports,
intermodal transportation facilities, major freight distribution
routes, national parks, recreation areas, monuments and historic
sites, and military installations."
     Rail-trails often provide the best opportunities for bicycle
and pedestrian access to frequented destinations such as those
listed above. In most communities these destinations do not now
have non-motorized access, yet many were once connected by an
active rail system. Re-connecting these facilities with bicycle and
pedestrian trails offers a non-polluting transportation option
which will also help to relieve traffic congestion in surrounding
areas.

(10) "Preservation of rights-of-way for construction of future
transportation projects, including future transportation
corridors."
     Above all others, consideration of this factor should lead
MPOs to establish an aggressive railroad corridor preservation
program. While some corridors may best serve their communities as
roads, highways or rail transit, a corridor preservation program
true to ISTEA must include a strong priority for rail-trail
conversion, as well as requirements to include trails in all new
road and transit projects using abandoned railroad corridors. If
adequate planning for the protection of rail corridors is not done
in advance, these corridors can be lost forever as multi-modal
facilities through reversion and development. Trail planning
decisions should be part of the Long Range Plan so that a trail
group or agency has the power to respond quickly to preserve the
right-of way when made aware of an impending abandonment.

(13) "The overall social, economic, energy and environmental
effects of transportation decisions.
     With over 550 rail-trails now being used for transportation
and recreation purposes across the United States, there are
hundreds of communities and hundreds of thousands of people who can
testify to the positive impacts of rail-trail development in their
communities. Primary among them are: an increase in community
livability and property values, an increase in transportation
options, booming trail-side businesses, an increase in personal
health and fitness, tourism development, scenic beautification, and
improved air and water quality.  For urban, suburban, and rural
communities across America, multi-use trail development for
recreation and transportation has proven to be a win-win solution
for communities seeking answers to their social, economic, energy-
related, and environmental problems.



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(14) "Methods to expand and enhance transit services and to
increase the use of such services.
     Bicycle and pedestrian facilities serve as the "connective
tissue" of a truly intermodal transportation system. Since most
trips involve a pedestrian element at the beginning, end, and at
any transfer station, safe and convenient walkways are essential.
Trails will expand the ridership for transit stations which draw
pedestrians from a limited quarter-mile radius but are able to
attract bicyclists from as far as a two-mile radius.
     Developing multi-use trails alongside rail transit and
commuter rail services can significantly increase access to the
service. Trails provide easy bicycle and walking access to stations
from multiple points along a corridor -- an option which proves
especially beneficial when stations are spaced at lengthy
intervals. In large cities where passenger rail use continues in
old rail yards, abandoned spurs and redundant trackage can often be
converted to trails which will provide greater access to the
passenger and transit services.


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