tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:/posts rails-WITH-trails 2016-07-25T21:04:36Z tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/830052 2015-03-25T09:48:31Z 2015-03-25T10:22:13Z NTSB Hosts Forum on Rail Corridor Safety

"As the nation’s chief rail safety regulator, nothing is more poignant to me than the simple fact that trespassing is the leading cause of all rail related deaths... Just last year, more than 500 people were killed and about 400 people were seriously injured as a result of trespassing.   And as a safety official, this statistic is especially sobering, because each one of those deaths and injuries were completely preventable." says Sarah Feinberg, Acting Federal Rail Administrator. "Generally, Americans just don’t equate railroad rights-of-way or rail bridges with life-threatening danger.  These lessons simply have not sunk into the consciousness of the American people.  The bottom line is that our Nation, starting with our children, must think of railroads and rail operations differently." 

Feinberg made these remarks at the opening of the March, 2015 Forum on Trains and Trespassing: Ending Tragic Encounters.

We couldn't agree more.  Yet the Federal Government spends $220 million per year to improve the safety of road crossings but nothing on the safety of the actual corridors where these tragedies occur.

Railroad corridors often divide communities.  They may be the shortest and most direct path for locals to get to school, jobs or other destinations.  

Simply putting up a sign, handing out a brochure at the local Walmart telling residents not to walk on the tracks isn't working as rising trespasser casualties demonstrate.

Making these corridors safer by offering multimodal accomodations and offering safe passage is a major step to reducing injuries and fatalities.

For more information on the Forum, click here.




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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/767783 2014-11-10T16:29:30Z 2014-11-10T16:29:30Z One Dead Another Injured While Walking on Trestle

Photo: News and Daily Advance, Autumn Parry

According to news reports,  21-year-old Massachusetts man died after being struck by an oncoming train in Lymchburg, Virginia.  Jonathan Gregoire of Wilbraham, Massachusetts was pronounced dead on the trestle, which spans the James River.  

Victoria Bridges, 21, of Newport News, VA also was on the trestle with Gregoire and suffered non-life threatening injuries. Bridges was transported by helicopter to Lynchburg General Hospital, according to police.

This is the latest of several trestle accidents in recent years. A man was struck and killed by a train on the trestle in October 2012 and a Liberty University student was also killed and another seriously injured in November 2011 in the same location.

Robin Chapman, spokesman for Norfolk Southern, previously told the News & Advance sometimes people are on the tracks for either a shortcut home or a good overlook point. Freight trains do not keep regular schedules, they run day and night, anytime, he said.

Once again, we ask: if a separated, protected trail were there, would this needless tragedy have happened?


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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/763205 2014-10-31T18:27:30Z 2014-10-31T18:27:30Z Well Designed RWT Along the GAP

While biking the Great Allegheny Passage recently, a CSX freight train happened to pass by while riding In downtown McKeesport, Pennsylvania.

The trail is very close to the tracks, certainly less than five feet away, but I certainly didn't feel like I was in any danger.  

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/610632 2013-10-19T16:06:59Z 2014-05-07T13:07:31Z New Rail With Trail Report Released

Report Concludes RWT's are Safe, Common, and Growing

The Rails to Trails Conservancy has released a new report designed to be a resource for planners, agencies and advocates on trails along active railroad corridors. 

View Report Now

The report is based on research which studied 88 rails-with-trails in 33 states, based on a survey of trail managers and the results of their ongoing study over the past 20 years. It  provides a collection of data, examples and practical tools to increase awareness of the rail-with-trail concept.

Key findings of the report include:

  • There are 161 rails-with-trails in 41 states, a 260 percent increase since 2000. Rails-with-trails represent almost 10%  of the total number of rail-trails in America. Another 60 rail-with-trail projects across the country are currently in various stages of development.
  • Constructing a trail along an active railroad multiplies the value a community derives from the rail corridor and provides citizens with transportation options.
  • Out of the tens of thousands of fatalities on railroad corridors in recent decades, only one involved a trail user on a rail-with-trail. This suggests that a well-designed pathway provides a safe travel alternative and reduces the incentive to trespass or use the tracks as a shortcut. 

  • Class I railroads continue to express formal opposition to the concept of trail development within or adjacent to their corridors. However, smaller private railroad companies and public rail authorities have reached agreements with trail managers on rail-with-trail development that have satisfactorily addressed any concerns about risk and liability.

  • There is a growing trend of rail-with-trail development alongside local and regional transit corridors. Fifteen percent of the active rails-with-trails identified in the study are located adjacent to mass transit corridors.

  • The vast majority of the rails-with-trails interviewed for the report are insured by an existing local umbrella policy, similar to most rail-trails and greenways.

The report is a timely update to prior rail-with-trail studies published in 1993, 1996 and 2000, and complements a report produced by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) in 2002, Rails-with-Trails: Lessons Learned.

A copy of the 2013 report can be downloaded here.  Additional data and research behind the report may be found here.


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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/417117 2013-04-18T18:54:14Z 2013-10-08T16:51:36Z Transportation Economist Studys Pedestrian/ Train Incidents

An increase in pedestrian train accidents and fatalities in the Chicago area has prompted officials to discuss how to keep distracted pedestrians safe around trains.

The Northwestern University Transportation Center, along with the city of Lake Forest, Ill., sponsored a Pedestrian Rail Safety Symposium held on the University's Evanston campus.

To listen to Northwestern Transportation Professor Ian Savage discuss the symposium, click  here.

The goal of the symposium was to generate recommendations that will encourage change in pedestrian behavior and reduce the number of accidents. A recent spike in pedestrian train accidents and the increasing prevalence and speed of commuter trains and light rail vehicles, which often travel at ground level, are of particular concern.

With safe, separated facilities like rails-with-trails, the chances of pedestrians or cyclists being in jeopardy is greatly decreased.  

People are going to walk along these corridors.  Let's make it safe for them to do so.



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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414782 2012-12-17T14:59:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Could RWTs Have Saved Many of These Lives?

Map Courtesy St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch began looking into railroad pedestrian deaths in June, shortly after a fatal collision in Kirkwood, MO. It examined hundreds of fatalities across the country.  The paper conducted more than 90 interviews, talking with victims’ families, railroad officials and workers, regulators, public officials and police, and reviewed thousands of pages of court documents, regulatory filings and industry publications.

Read the entire series at stltoday.com/rails

Rather than putting up more signs and looking the other way, if many of these deadly corridors were converted into safe-to-use, rails with trails, would the number of fatal incidents be loweredt?

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414783 2012-07-29T05:38:58Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Multimodal Santa Cruz

 

Photo by Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious.  See more at Richard's Flickr.

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414786 2010-12-07T20:25:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Group Forges RWT Agreement on PA's Montour Trail

Photo Courtesy onyxlee

Pennsylvania's  Montour Trail Council announced that it has reached an agreement with MarkWest Energy Partners, of Denver, Colorado, to build a three-mile rail-with-trail along the former Westland Branch of the Montour Railroad in Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, and Chartiers townships, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

The Montour Trail is a multi-use non-motorized recreational rail-trail near Pittsburgh, PA that will ultimately extend 46 miles from Moon Township near Coraopolis to Clairton. Currently, multiple sections of the trail totaling over 40 miles are already completed.

According to a Pittsburgh Post Observer article, MarkWest will lease the corridor from the Montour Trail Council.

Ned Williams, president of the MTC, said that the 30-year lease agreement with MarkWest will bring major financial and recreational benefits.

“Not only will MarkWest’s participation develop this recreational branch trail sooner than we could have done,” Williams explained, “but the company’s lease payments will help us cover the trail’s ever-increasing operating and maintenance costs. Even more important to the region, we see the proposed rail development as a good thing for our neighboring communities, since rail transport is so much safer than having many extra tank trucks on our local roads.”

For more information, visit the MTC website: www.montourtrail.org

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414787 2010-11-23T18:24:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Burlington Waterfront Bike Path

The Burlington Waterfront Bike Path runs for 7.6 miles along the waterfront of Lake Champlain with spectacular views of the Adirondack mountains in New York and the lake itself.

View of Lake Champlain

The trail is used by an estimated 150,000 bikers, pedestrians, joggers, and in-line skaters each year.

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414788 2010-11-09T05:19:00Z 2016-07-25T21:04:36Z Santa Cruz Gets Approval for RWT

California Transportation Commission Approves Branch Line Purchase 

 

After nearly ten years of negotiations and review of the property’s condition, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission secured State approval to purchase the Branch Line for $14.2 million with a commitment to make $5 million in improvements.

In a letter urging the CTC to approve the project, Congressman Sam Farr noted, “The acquisition of this 32-mile coastal rail corridor is a vital element of the Central California Coast’s efforts to provide multi-modal solutions to its significant transportation problems.”

By preserving the rail line as a continuous transportation corridor, the RTC will be able to provide transportation options for residents and visitors that may be feasible in the future. This could include passenger rail, transit, bicycle and pedestrian uses. In the near term, the RTC will continue existing freight and recreational rail service and plans to establish new recreational rail service along the scenic north coast between the main beach area in Santa Cruz and the historic town of Davenport eleven miles north.

Passenger trains and the coastal rail trail will run together along the coastal line to help students, commuters, and visitors to travel throughout the County.  According to reports,  many sections of the coastal rail line is beautifully forested and offers a very accessible, flat place to walk or cycle. 

For more details, visit the Friends of the Rail Trail website.

 The Santa Cruz trail is a key component in creating a larger, Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network.

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414789 2010-10-15T16:10:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Cycling Along the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is an excursion railroad based in Cumberland, Maryland. It operates over ex-Western Maryland Railway tracks and travels to Frostburg. 

The Allegheny Highlands Trail of Maryland runs along the rail line.  This trail is part of the very popular  Great Allegheny Passage trail which connects Cumberland to Pittsburgh and attracts over 750,000 visitors per year.

The Western Maryland uses both steam and diesel locomotives.

Though some might argue that cycling next to a steam locomotive would be far more dangerous than riding next to a diesel or electric train, this fact seems  lost on the cyclist in the video. 

Note, too, there isn't a fence or barrier separating the train from the trail.

More scenes from the Great Alleheny Passage:

 

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414790 2010-10-12T03:44:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Man Killed On Same Tracks As Teen

Two Have Died in a Month Along Tracks in Chesterfield, Virginia

A 25 year old verteran was killed walking on the same stretch of tracks as the high school student who died on October 8. 

Chesterfield County Police identified the man who was killed by a train on September 6 as Aubrey A. Weese, 25, of the 3700 block of Luckylee Crescent in Richmond. Police said the victim was wearing headphones and had his back to the Amtrak train as he walked near the Defense Supply Center in Richmond. 


Photo Courtesy WWBT 12

People will walk along train tracks if they don't have alternatives.  Rails-With-Trails provide safe options.... and may have saved both these lives.

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414791 2010-10-11T14:00:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z High School Student Killed Walking on Tracks

Would a Rail-With-Trail Have Avoided This Tragedy?

An 18 year old high school student from Chesterfield, VA was trying to make his 10 pm curfew and decided to take a shortcut by walking home along active  railroad tracks.  It appears he didn't hear the train coming and was tragically killed.

If there had been a trail along this track, would he have been walking on active tracks or instead, walking home  along a safe walking path? 

According to the news story, many children in this neighborhood use this same shortcut each day. 

In this neighborhood - and many other neighborhoods across the nation - this same, tragic story need not play out again and again if citizens had safe corridors to use rather than taking shortcuts and walking on active railroad tracks. 

The railroads all cry danger, but once again, common sense tells us that if there had been a rail-with-trail along this track in Chesterfield County, this tragedy could have been avoided.

Let’s build safe cycling and walking paths beside the tracks so we don’t see this scenario play out yet again.

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414792 2010-10-10T13:00:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z RWT's Work in the Mid-West

 

Here are some geat photos of rails-with-trails in Madison, Wisconsin.

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414793 2010-10-03T12:00:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Family Adventures on Rails-With-Trails?

Railroad officials love to shout, “Danger! Danger!” whenever anyone has the nerve to even suggest that bike and pedestrian trails can be located next to active rail lines. 

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I came across the Portland Family Adventures  website showing  a family of three, (Dad leading the charge on his bike, Mom looking a bit unsteady on her roller-blades and a little girl of three or four on tiny little pink bike in between)) riding on the Springwater Trail  in Portland, Oregon, perhaps fifteen feet from a railroad track. 

Shouldn't someone call Portland’s Social Service Department and report these irresponsible parents? 

According to the website, the Spring water Corridor Trail is, “one of the best and most accessible bike paths within a short distance from downtown Portland.”

Don't we, in fact,  need more corridors like the Springwater Trail for families to get some exercise and fresh air  as they enjoy their time together?  Perhaps we shousuggest more families go out for a ride, roll or walk along a trail, bike path or heaven-forbid, one of those crazy, scary rails-with-trails.

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414794 2010-09-29T14:40:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Plans for New California Line Include RWT

It appears Northern California will soon be home to another  rail-with-trail. 

Sumitomo   Corp. of America/Nippon Sharyo Inc.  is the low bidder to build nine, three-car trains for California’s Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District. They plan to build a 70-mile commuter railroad and a parallel bicycle-pedestrian path along the publicly owned former Northwestern Pacific Railroad right-of-way through Sonoma and Marin counties.

The Northwestern Pacific Railroad   was a regional railroad serving California's North Coast. The railroad ran from the North Bay at Sausalito to Eureka, California, primarily near the U.S. Route 101 corridor. 

The Northwestern Railroad ceased operations in 1992.

The new line will run from Cloverdale, California, at the north end of Sonoma County, to Larkspur, where the Golden Gate Ferry connects Marin County with San Francisco.

Construction is slated to start next year with service scheduled to begin in 2014. There will be 14 stations between Cloverdale and Larkspur with trains running at 79 mph.

Specifications included seating for 78, storage for 10 to 12 bicycles, overhead storage, tables, reading lights, and Wi-Fi.

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414795 2010-07-14T19:41:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z SEHSR: A Complete Corridor for the Twenty-First Century

The proposed Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor (SEHSR) planned to run from Washington DC to Charlotte, NC via Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia.

This corridor is a candidate for a rail-with-trail. 

In the initial Tier II Environmental Impact Study, a trail was included to connect Petersburg, Virginia to Raleigh, North Carolina as part of the East Coast Greenway. ( http://www.greenway.org/ )

Let's hope officials realize that we could not only upgrade our rail infrastructure but create a complete, multi-modal transportation corridor (Complete Corridors) at the same time. 

The SEHSR could be the example for the rest of America of how we should prospose and build transportation corridors for the twenty-first century. 

Let's not squander this incredible opportunity.  Our children and grandchildren will thank us.

To learn more, visit http://www.sehsr.org/

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414796 2010-05-01T01:36:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Phoenix Light Rail

Phoenix is proud of their new Valley Metro light rail system.

Here's a neat little vido of Steven Vance riding next to the LRT in downtown Phoenix.  Note that there are no barriers, fences or grade separation. 

RWTs can work with light rail, too!

Please sign our RWT petition @ http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rwt/

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414797 2010-04-18T21:56:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Minneapolis Success:

The Hiawatha Trail - LRT

Another example of how well rails-with-trails can work is the Hiawatha Light Rail Line in Minneapolis.

The trail is part of the The Hiawatha Line,  an 11 mile light rail corridor that runs from Downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America.  It includes stops at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.  The Hiawatha had over 10 million rides in 2008 with 30,500 per weekday.

The Hiawatha was opened in 2004 and the trail stretches from 11th Ave to 28th Street connecting the Midtown Greenway to downtown Minneapolis  Between 1800 and 2100  people use the trail per day.

The trail is owned by Metro Transit.  Here are some shots along the corridor:

Here's a random video of a couple of guys riding beside the train, clearly paying little attention to the fact they are less than 10 feet from the tracks.  Come to think of it, why should they?

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414798 2010-04-17T16:30:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z San Diego's Martin Luther King Promenade

Click here for more photos of this beautiful trail.

 

Running through downtown San Diego is the Martin Luther King Promenade.  Located near the convention center in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, this beautifully landscaped corridor connects restaurants, parks, shops and outdoor art exhibits. 

Along the promenade you'll see some of the best the city has to offer.

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414799 2010-04-14T04:33:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z Along the California Coast:

 More on the San Clemente Coastal Trail

 

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414800 2010-04-06T03:22:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z A Video Story: the San Clemente Beach Trail

This is San Clemente Beach.

Sunset at San Clemente T-Street by Rys Photostream.  

With sunsets like this, it's easy to see why 2.2 million people access San Clemente beaches annually.

Unfortunately, a rail corridor blocks access to these pristine beaches with more than 50 trains passing through the corridor each day. 

This is how the City of San Clemente solved their access problems: the San Clemente Beach Trail.

San Clemente Pier from Linda Lane by Terry.Tyson.

One more example of how rails-with-trails are safe, provide access and act as corridors to the places people want to go.

Why wouldn't this work in your town?

For a map of the rail-trail as well as all the other great trails in San Clemente click here.

 

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tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414801 2010-04-04T13:02:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z A Picture Speaks Volumes

According to generally accepted  experts, there are over 200 rails-with-trails in the US.  Their combined lengths total over 2000 miles.  People are happily (and safely) riding, walking and skating down the trails to work, school, home or for fun and exercise.  Everyone seems safe and happy.

 

Click on the tumbnails to see an artist's rendering of upgraded rail corridor in the Shenandoah Valley before and after rails-with-trails.


Do you have a rail-with-trail in your backyard?  Would you be willing to share it - or at least a few photos- with us?
 
People seem to be doing a great job of hiding these little jewels.  Wouldn't it be nice to share them with everyone so they can see what it would be like to have a rail-with-trail in their town or city?
 
We decided to take the initiative and see what's out there and share it with the world. 


Next to walking or riding the trails, let's share pics, anecdotes or experiences with those who want RWTs.  (And if you're tying to convince your local politician or  official that this crazy RWT idea isn't so crazy, we know it isn't!)
Take a trip to our flickr account for a virtual stroll...

Check out other rails-with-trails here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/railswithtrails/
 
Enjoy!
 
 
Sign the RWT peitition @ http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rwt/]]>
tag:railswithtrails.com,2013:Post/414781 2010-04-02T20:32:00Z 2013-10-08T16:51:06Z What's the Deal?

This is about rails WITH trails....
 
You're probably familiar with rails TO trails - building paths and trails along abandoned rail corridors. This is about building trails, paths and bikeways along active rail corridors.
 
"Could this be safe?" you ask.  It is, indeed.  Rails-with-trails (RWTs) have been around since the eighties and there hasn't been a single fatality and only a couple of minor accidents reported back in the nineties (O.K  -  there was a cow that broke through a fence and took the fast ride to a butcher shop on the front of a locomotive and there was the one knuckle-head  who rode his bike  under a closed crossing gate.  Don't worry - he wasn't killed - and his case was thrown out of court.  I hear he may have been nominated for a Darwin Award...)

Kidding aside, studies show RWTs actually make the railroad corridors safer; people don't walk on railroad tracks when there's a nice, smooth path 20 feet away and they cross the tracks where they're supposed to at designated crossings.  716 cyclists died on our roads in 2008.  I can tell you from experience, the railroads will jump up and down and declare the sky is falling, but any reasonable person will draw the proper conclusion from the facts.
 
Are you still not convinced that riding on a rail-with-trail is for you?  Contemplate this: would you rather ride your bike 15 feet from a train doing 30 mph on a pair of steel tracks, or choose to  ride on a curvy, two lane road,  24 inches away from a tractor trailer doing 60 mph,  while the driver is texting home to find out when the pork roast  will be served.   Case closed.
 
Why should the railroads do rails-with-trails?  For one reason: we, as taxpayers, deserve it. 
 
The federal government is giving the railroads $8 billion to upgrade passenger rail corridors.  They're scheduled to spend billions more on upgrades over the next five years.  That's your money and mine.  And that doesn't even include bushel-baskets more money to upgrade the freight lines.
 
Railroad corridors are typically owned by private rail companies.  We upgrade their corridors, they ship more products and more people.  They make more profits.   We, the taxpayer, foot the bill to rebuild their tracks.  What's missing here?
 
Shouldn't we share the benefits with safe, direct paths to go to work, get some exercise, ride to school or go to the store?  Seems like a reasonable request.
 
Why use rail corridors for paths?  Frequently, these railways were laid out over a hundred years ago.  They typically followed the most direct path  - the paths of  least resistance, like valleys, river courses and streams to get from Village A to City B or Port C.  The railways were flat, straight and  and they connected towns, villages and cities.  Many of these paths are now surrounded by exurbs, suburbs and cities full of car drivers who follow those same basic routes to the center cities a century later.   As an added benefit, some of these railways follow incredibly scenic routes through the country side to those cities. 
 
In many instances, large swaths of land were taken from landowners years ago,  whether the farmer wanted the railroad  or not.  Eminent Domain ruled  and frequently these corridors were cut wide, reserving land on either side of the tracks for future use. Perhaps it's now time to put that land to good use.
 
Fast forward 125 years.

The days of cheap, plentiful, gasoline came, everyone bought a car (or two or three) and trolley cars, buses and mass transit in most city has nearly gone the way of the DoDo bird.  And so, too, may have the days of cheap, endless gas.

We need to start planning for tomorrows transportation needs.  It won't come as a surprise to many that walking and biking will become more familiar to most Americans.  (Considering that most American adults are overweight (68% according to the LA Times) maybe that's not such a bad thing.


Congress has finally figured out that upgrading our rail infrastructure - freight, passenger and high-speed - is a smart idea.  We agree.  We're simply saying that while we're upgrading our rail infrastructure, let's do things right and include multi-modal accommodations while we're doing it - bike and pedestrian paths - and make the most of the opportunity. 
 
More cars and more highways are no longer the answer.  Let's round out our transportation system at once.  Let's build rails-with-trails and create a transportation system for 21st century and beyond.
 
We hope you support the idea and choose to come along for the ride......

Please sign our RWT petition @ http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rwt/

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