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arrow American Trails presented "Creative Reassembling of Former Railroad Corridors" on February 23, 2017 as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series"


arrow You can purchase the archived version of this webinar via the American Trails Online Store


QUESTIONS and ANSWERS from webinar on Creative Reassembling of Former Railroad Corridors

American Trails presented "Creative Reassembling of Former Railroad Corridors" on February 23, 2017 as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series."

Webinar Follow up Questions & Answers , by Craig Della Penna


Q. What are some reasons that people have told you why they wanted to live near a rail trail in your area?

Best reason I ever heard was several years ago when I was the listing agent for a house I was selling next to a rail trail. A buyer couple wrote a nice letter describing how they wanted their kids to be able to bike to school— just like the parents used to. The trail next to the house leads to three schools!


Q. What are some reasons that people are so passionately opposed to converting the former railroad in their neighborhood to a trail?

Crime will increase, property values will go down, and pedophiles will snatch children from back yards— and a host of other not true reasons.

Q. When the land trusts step in, do they typically retain title or are they simply acting as an intermediary for a public agency? And, how are they funding these acquisitions? Are they using grants or donations?

They own in fee and generally not acting on behalf of a state agency. There are some programs that land trusts manage, that preserve farm land and other parcels that might be owned by the state, but there is no case where I know of where a land trust manages a former RR that is being used as a trail and it is owned by a state agency. And yes, they are using grants and donations.

Q. What was the source of info mentioned about the economic benefits of rail trails?

Download "The Economic Impact of the Erie Canalway Trail" (pdf 7.3 mb):

Q. Have you dealt with "adverse possession" on railroad corridors?

No. Very unusual around here. In what context? Pro-trail users claiming to have ownership due to constant use? Or anti trail people claiming that their blocking the trail for years means they own it through adverse possession?

Q. Do we need to solicit funds to maintain these covered bridges and railroad signals?

Railroad signals? Maintain them for a historic preservation project? That wouldn’t be expensive. Bridges? Once upgraded for trail use, it isn’t expensive to maintain them in most scenarios.

Q. What financial resources did you use to immediately acquire the home with the railroad through it to then sever off the corridor?

I have a couple of partners who will buy a needed house for cash, do some minor renovation, and carve off the dead railroad on the back side— giving that to the municipality or a land trust. They will then relist the house for sale without the dead railroad.

Q. In your experience, what is, or should be, the typical scope of work for a rail trail feasibility study?

It should be done in a template format so that each section of the report will look the same. Here’s some other bullets needed:

• Corridor should have extensive maps and corresponding pics of each section.

• Geographic features should be called out.

• Bridges are a particular needed facet where specialized info or report will be needed.

• Adjoining land ownership should be called out and have map/block numbers along w plot plans too.

• In locales where vegetation is sparse you might need to consider a phase 1 environmental review. The transportation and or environmental section of your regional planning agency does these sorts of things very commonly and can assist.

Q. Any ideas on how to dispose of old rail ties? Any chance in California to get a waiver so that we can burn them? We have 80 miles of ties to dispose of.

I’d start here w this list. Call the facility nearest to you and see what they have to say.

Q. What is the best way to deal with multiple municipal owners of a rail trail who are receiving pressure from abutters who oppose the trail to not support funding Design and Engineering at Town Meeting? The corridor is managed by town Board of Selectmen, School Department, and Park and Rec Commission who all own various sections (this is in Massachusetts).

I know the town and I’ll call a friend of mine who is a top muni-law attorney. This is quite unusual. I’ll find an answer for you though.

Q. Can we please have the reference for the really good feasibility study that the speaker commented on?

Download "Boston Worcester Air Line Trail" (pdf 38.9 mb)

See more Feasibility Studies at:

Q. Is there a loss of creosote factor based on age of ties that determine its volatility or environmentally offensive levels?

Call your local State EPA officials.


arrow You can purchase the recorded version of this webinar via the American Trails Online Store


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