This report offers conclusions about the lessons learned in the development, construction, and operation of “rails-with-trails” so that railroad companies, trail developers, and others can benefit from the history of trails in existence today.
The data collection and analysis for this study included the following:
- An analysis of existing literature, focused on RWT studies and projects, legal documents, and railroad safety experience.
- Focused case studies of 21 geographically diverse RWT projects representing a variety of railroad and trail characteristics. For each trail, researchers conducted interviews with railroad officials, trail managers, and law enforcement officials. They also gathered data about before-and-after conditions related to safety, trespassing, vandalism, and conflicts.
- Other research topics included the following:
- Relevant laws and statutes, their effectiveness, and transferability;
- Relevant legal case studies and precedents;
- Ownership/use arrangements;
- Railroad company policies toward RWTs, through a telephone survey of officials;
- Analysis of current design practices;
- Operations and maintenance issues, through interviews with train engineers and operations personnel; and
- Educational efforts underway, through a survey and ongoing discussions with railroad officials, trail managers, and Operation Lifesaver officials.