Potential revenue for your trail project could be gained by salvaging the existing steel rails on a railroad corridor. In most cases, the railroad will remove all salvageable materials before the final property transaction.
Generally, state and federal regulations require railroads to return the corridor to its original condition upon abandonment, which includes the removal of tracks, ties and other structures. However, some physical structures may need to remain for trail use (bridges, tunnels, culverts). The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRCMA) provides a member directory that includes a list of salvage companies.
Railbanking and Salvaging
If you are acquiring a corridor through railbanking, you may be in a position to finance your acquisition through the purchase and subsequent resale of all railroad-related material in the corridor. This step is called a "line buy." Line buys are very complicated transactions that require extensive understanding of the value of the entire corridor (not simply the real estate) as well as the costs associated with dismantling the corridor.
Line buys work because you may be able to manage the salvage of a corridor profitably, while a railroad, because of its legal obligations, may be unable to do so. Learn more about line buys and other types of financing methods in Chapter 7 of Acquiring Rail Corridors: A How-To Manual.
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