RAIL-TRAIL FAQ
HOME
 

What is KRTC? ~ Kentucky Rails to Trail Council, Inc. is a non profit volunteer organization. Our purpose is to "foster and facilitate the conservation of greenways and railroad right-of- ways in Kentucky by the conversion of such holdings to trail use for the general public. Read our Bylaws.

KRTC was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit tax-exempt organization in 1995.   KRTC has 200-300 dues paying members and sends out a quarterly  newsletter to 1600 supporters of railtrails and greenways. Dues are for a calendar year.

What is the relationship of KRTC to the national Rail-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC)? - The Rail-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is a national rail trail building and advocacy organization.(KRTC supports the RTC by paying dues as a Trail Partner.omit no longer true.) RTC provides help through technical assistance from their staff. Some individual members belong to both groups. The RTC website is railtrails.org. Their Trails and Greenways Clearing house website, trailsandgreenways.org,  is  an excellent source of information.

What is the relationship of KRTC to local nonprofit rail trail organizations in Kentucky? ~  Local non-profit organizations such as the Bluegrass Rail to Trail Foundation (BRTF) are active at the local level whereas KRTC is active supporting railtrail interests and local railtrail groups state wide. KRTC has been instrumental in starting and supporting local nonprofit rail trail groups. Local nonprofits are focused on the creation/development of a specific rail trail.

For example BRTF's goal is to implement the creation of the Lexington/Big Sandy Rail Trail along the abandoned CSX line in Fayette, Clark and Montgomery Counties. The Lake Cumberland Trail Foundation (LCTF) was the development group for the Cathy Crockett Memorial Trail. 

What are trails and greenways? ~ Greenways are corridors of protected open space managed for conservation and recreation purposes. Greenways often follow natural land or water features and link nature reserves, parks, cultural features and historic sites with each other and with populated areas. Greenways can be publicly or privately owned and some are the result of public/private partnerships. Trails are paths used for walking, bicycling, horseback riding or other forms of recreation or transportation. Railtrails are trails made from abandoned railroad corridors. 

Why Establish Trails and Greenways? ~ Trails and greenways positively impact individuals and improve communities by providing not only recreation and transportation opportunities, but also by influencing economic and community development. Some of the many trails and greenways benefits include:

  • making communities better places to live by preserving and creating open spaces;
  • creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation and non-motorized transportation; 
  • encouraging physical fitness and healthy lifestyles; * preserving culturally & historically valuable areas.
  • strengthening local economies through tourism and job development * protecting the environment

How do Trails and Greenways Support Economic Development? ~  Trails and greenways provide countless opportunities for economic renewal and growth. Increased property values, tourism and recreation-related spending on items such as bicycles, in-line skates and lodging. In a 1992 study, the National Park Service estimated the average economic activity associated with three multi-purpose trails in Florida, California and Iowa was $1.5 million annually.

How do Trails and Greenways Promote Healthy Living? ~ Many people realize exercise is important for maintaining good health in all stages of life; however many do not regularly exercise. The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that 60% of American adults are not regularly active and another 25% are not active at all. 20-24% of Kentuckians are considered obese (+30 lbs overweight), Center for Disease Control, 2004.

In communities across the country, people do not have access to trails, parks, or other recreation areas close to their homes. Trails and greenways provide a safe, inexpensive avenue for regular exercise for people living in rural, urban and suburban areas.  Trails and greenways help improve air and water quality. For example, communities with trails provide enjoyable and safe options for transportation, which reduces air pollution. By protecting land along rivers and streams, greenways prevent soil erosion and filter pollution caused by agricultural and road runoff. 

How do Railtrails Preserve Our History and Culture? ~ Trails and greenways have the power to connect us to our heritage by preserving historic places and by providing access to them. They can give people a sense of place Trails and greenways can draw the public to historic sites. The rail lines themselves with their tunnels, buildings, and bridges are historic features. Rail-trails along historic rail corridors provide a glance at the importance of this mode of transportation. They preserve transportation corridors.  Through their votes, thousands of Americans have said 'yes' to preserving open spaces, greenways, farmlands and other important habitat. During the 1998 election, voters in 44 states approved over 150 conservation-related ballot initiatives. Trails and greenways provide what many Americans seek - close to home recreational areas, community meeting places, historic preservation, educational experiences, natural landscapes and beautification.

Both trails and greenways help communities build pride by ensuring that their neighborhoods are good places to live, so that children can safely walk or bike to a park, school, or to a neighbor's home. Trails and greenways help make communities more attractive and friendly places to live.  "A livable suburb or city is one that lets us get home after work fast, that restores and sustains our historic neighborhoods, that preserves among new development some family farms and green spaces. A livable neighborhood lets you and your family walk through a natural ecosystem as you simply take an evening stroll down your street." -Vice President Albert Gore

What was HB 221? ~   HB 221 was passed in the 2000 KY legislative session. HB 221 provided for the establishment of an Office of Rail Trail Programs in the Department for Local Government. Jodie McDonald, Jodie.mcdonald@ky.gov  is the Coordinator of Kentucky’s Railtrail Development Office. The Office monitors abandonments and commissioned the statewide inventory and assessment of abandoned rail corridors.  See the Kentucky Abandoned Railroad Corridor Inventory at http://www.gold.ky.gov/grants/railtrail.htm

What is KRTC current biggest project? ~   KRTC has biannual state wide conferences; the next to be in 2008.  These conferences give information and provide problem solving forums on how to develop trail projects in local communities. The conferences are targeted to trail and greenway advocates, elected officials, community development advocates, public health, design and planning professionals, landscape architects, and officials from transportation, park and recreation agencies. The cost of these conferences are between $10,000-$15,000 even with substantial volunteer help. KRTC is actively looking for agencies, business and individuals to underwrite the cost of the 2008 conference. 

What are the different options for funding a trail or greenway?  ~ There are several major sources for funding trails and greenways. 

1.    TEA-21. In 1991, Congress enacted the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), a six-year bill authorizing a wide range of federal-aid transportation programs, including programs that fund trail acquisition and development. In June of 1998, the Transportation Equity Act for the Twenty-first Century (TEA-21) was enacted and expanded. See: http://tea21.ky.gov/. Transportation Enhancement Activities can include :

  • Pedestrian and bicycle facilities Pedestrian and bicycle safety and education activities 
  • Landscaping and scenic beautification Historic preservation 
    Preservation of abandoned railway corridors Control and removal of outdoor advertising 
  • Archaeological planning and research Establishment of transportation museums 
  • Mitigation of highway runoff Provision of wildlife under crossings 
    Acquisition of scenic easements and historic easements and sites 
    Scenic or historic highway programs including tourist and welcome centers 
  • Rehabilitation and operation of historic transportation buildings, structures or facilities 

2.    A second source of funding authorized by TEA-21 for trail projects is the Recreational Trails Program, which funds acquisition, construction, and management of recreational trail facilities. See http://gold.ky.gov/grants/rtp.htm.
3.    Community Development Block Grant Program. The CDBG program directly funds cities and towns for projects with community-wide benefits. Trails can qualify for CDBG money, particularly those with documentable economic, cultural and historic merits. Generally, information on CDBG grants is available through you mayor's office: http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/
4.    Corporate and private foundations.

Can KRTC own a rail trail? ~   Yes. Rail trails can be owned and managed by responsible private groups as well as by governmental groups. KRTC has recently amended their bylaws so that they can function, if needed, as a land trust and hold (own) abandoned rail corridors until a government agency or other suitable rail trail proponent accepts it for development. However KRTC does not seek to be the developer or the final and permanent owner of a railtrail. KRTC works to have local governments and/or park services cooperate to create rail rails. Rail trails are linear parks and as such or public lands owned by municipalities, counties, park services or other governmental entities. 

What does 'abandoned' mean? ~ A railroad corridor is generally considered abandoned when: (1) rail service is discontinued; (2) the Surface Transportation Board (STB) officially approves the abandonment; and (3) tariffs (pay-schedules) are canceled. A rail corridor can be legally abandoned even if the tracks and ties are still in place. Conversely, even if the tracks are out it might not be legally abandoned.

How can I find out if a corridor is actually abandoned? ~ First check the abandon railroad corridor inventory at http://gold.ky.gov/grants/railtrail.htm. . You can also contact the Rail Trail Office of the Dept. of Transportation. You might also be able to find out through the railroad, although you may need to get a high-quality historical map from your library to determine the railroad that operated on that line. To learn more about converting abandoned corridors into trails - and to get a listing of key agency contacts in each state - order a copy of Secrets of Successful Rail-Trails: An Acquisition  and Organizing Manual for Converting Rails into Trails from the Trails & Greenways Clearing House at http://www.trailsandgreenways.org/
resources/development/acquis/secrets_book.asp
.

What is 'railbanking'? ~ Railbanking (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 some railroad might need the corridor again for rail service. Because a railbanked corridor is not considered abandoned, it can be sold, leased or donated to a trail manager without reverting to adjacent landowners.

Who owns the abandoned corridor before it becomes a trail? ~ Ownership of a rail corridor is generally mixed, often including the railroad, federal, state or local governments, as well as adjacent landowners. Historically, when the railroad built a line it bought some of the land and leased the rest from adjacent landowners or the federal government. When abandoned, a corridor may revert to the lease holders and, in effect, be owned by many people.

What are the obligations of a person allowing their property to be used as a Rail Trail?~ Kentucky has the Recreational Use Statute which covers liability issues for land owners  who allow their property to be used for a Rail Trail.  The law was designed to encourage owners of land to make the areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability toward persons entering the property. For more information, see KRS 411.190. KRS statutes found at http://www.lrc.state.ky.us.

What is a 'public use condition' and a 'notice of interim trail use'? ~ Both are documents that can be issued by the STB during the abandonment process. A public use condition (PUC) gives public agencies the exclusive right to negotiate for 180 days with the railroad for purchase of an abandoned corridor. During this time, bridges, culverts, surface material, and any other features essential to building a trail must be kept intact. A notice of interim trail use (NITU) permits the railroad and trail manager to negotiate for railbanking and use of the line for a trail.

What happens to the bridges or tunnels, and what about road crossings? ~ Ideally, bridges and tunnels are left intact after abandonment so that the trail agency need only add wooden decking, appropriate railings and other safety features. Although road crossings tend to be relatively few and far between on most rail lines, they must be properly striped and signed for both trail and road users. To learn more about all aspects of rail-trail design, including surfacing materials, width, plantings, crossings and amenities, order a copy of "Trails for the Twenty-First Century: A Planning, Design, and Management Manual for Multi-Use Trails" from the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

Who builds the trail? ~ In most cases, the public agency that buys or manages the corridor builds the trail as well. The agency either develops it using its own labor and equipment or hires an independent construction company. In a few cases, a group of citizen volunteers has constructed a trail.

Who manages the trail? ~ Trails are generally managed by local, state or federal government agencies, but some are operated by other types of organizations, including non-profit "friends of the trail" citizen groups, land trusts and community foundations.

What the major trail uses? Who are the users? ~ Major Trail Uses: Bicycling (55%), Walking (34%), Jogging (6%)
· The average trail user is 45 years old and makes 39 annual visits.
· The average visit is 2 hours.
· Men and women comprise an equal percentage of users.
· 88% of nearby landowners use the trail an average of 85 days per year.

What affect does a trail have on 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.

How Much Does a Trail Cost? - There is no one answer to this question and each trail will have a difference answer.  Cost will vary if land and easements are donated or will they have to be bought at current prevailing prices. Is the land urban or rural with corresponding difference in land value?  Other variables that will affect the cost are the condition of the trail bed, bridges and tunnels and if repairs are needed.   Are there excavation or drainage problems that will have to be corrected? Will the surface be gravel or asphalt?  

If there is a stable surface and cost of land ownership and trail bed preparation is not included a broad estimate of a base price for a paved trail is $50,000 a mile or $25,000/mile if not paved.

  • For comparison, a local conversion of a public pool from a Jr. Olympic to an Aquatic Center was $2 million (Tates Creek Pool, 2004). 
  • The estimated cost of a practice ball field using laser grading, seeding and having a backstop is $15,000 to $20,000. A ball field (200 ft by 325 ft) that can be used for games has an estimated cost of $150,000 to $250,000 (this assumes plenty of topsoil, a “flat” site and does not include cost of land.) The cost will vary if there is lighting or irrigation needed.
  • Grading a practice soccer field usually runs around $15,000.
  • A soccer game field depending on size and if lighting and irrigation are needed can run from $35,000 to $200,000. This price can double if artificial turf is used.

Link for CDBG
http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/

Link for abandon RR corridor inventory
http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/

Link for Secrets of Successful ...
http://www.trailsandgreenways.org/resources/development/acquis/secrets_book.asp

KRS statutes found at http://www.lrc.state.ky.us



 

 

P.O. Box 597 • Lexington, Kentucky • 40588-0597

© 2005, Kentucky Rails to Trails Council
a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit tax-exempt organization