Californians are planning one of the world’s longest rail trails along a disused rail corridor in the rugged north of the state.
At around 450km it is expected to take years to build.
Only a few kilometres have been committee so far, but expectations are high.
The trail would stretch from Marin, on San Francisco Bay, to Humboldt Bay in the state’s north, along the dilapidated North Coast Railroad Authority train line.
The line was once a busy freight corridor, however floods and fires, and legal and financial quagmires, have resulted in the closure of most of the track.
Legislators have decided to acquire the corridor for a trail, but will “railbank” the route so that it can be converted back to rail operations if the need arose in the future.
The cost of constructing the trail is estimated to be close to one billion Australian dollars.
There are 38 bridges, 19 major trestles and 42 tunnels. The longest tunnel is 1.3 km.
The existing rail agency has massive debts and future obligations for expensive environmental remediation, so building the trail is an attractive option.
A feasibility study has examined existing conditions, trail governance and railbanking research, trail facility design, corridor segmenting, prioritization and analytics, and cost estimates.
A trail along this corridor has the potential to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors and serve as an economic driver to the communities in the area.
It is estimated that the trail would generate $24 million in annual local economic activity, reduce 1,580.43 metric tons of carbon dioxide, and increase walking and biking by 1,384,915 new trips annually.
The goals of the project are:
- A continuous trail within the NWP corridor
- Protect safety/privacy of adjacent landowners
- Make trail accessible to wide variety of users
- Restore/enhance environment, esp. stream habitat Improve emergency vehicle access
- Enhance local economies
- Restore/maintain railroad infrastructure to extent feasible
- Trail design to reflect feasibility, environment, safety
- Provide adequate support facilities esp. in isolated areas
- Prohibit fires during fire season
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