America’s Rails-with-Trails
Camp Chase Rail-Trail
Columbus, Ohio
Partially complete. 5.5 miles are open to the public. 6
miles are currently under construction.
When completed, the Camp Chase Rail-Trail will
be a major connection in a cross-state trail project stretching
from Cleveland through Columbus to Cincinnati. Currently,
miles of the trail are open and when finished will pass over
a major interstate and into Columbus’ Hilltop neighbor­hood,
a dense urban residential, retail and industrial area. Trains on
the adjacent tracks are operated by a short line freight company
that runs approximately one train a day at less than 10 mph.
The entire length of the existing trail runs parallel to the active
railroad corridor, although a section of the planned trail cor-
ridor will divert from the railroad corridor for about one mile.
Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, the lead
agency in the development of the Camp Chase Rail-Trail,
acquired a fee simple purchase of property from the rail opera-
tor for $750,000. The agreement stipulates the trail be built at
least 20 feet from the edge of the rail. Multiple design elements
were used to delineate the trail from the rail line, including
fencing, grade separation and some ditching. The trail is 12
feet wide with an asphalt surface and crosses the rail corridor at
grade several times. Crossings are signed and marked for trail
users. A prefabricated bridge will be installed to create a safe
crossing of an eight lane interstate. The budget for develop-
ment of the trail to date, including the cost of property rights
of the entire 11.5 miles, is $6.9 million.
Completion of the entire trail corridor is expected
by the end of 2014. Further expansion opportunities along the
corridor are being explored by the City of Columbus, which
could turn this stretch of rail-with-trail into almost 15 miles of
total trail.
Camp Chase Railroad is operated by a short line rail company,
Carload Express Inc., which also operates two short line rail­
roads in Pennsylvania. The take away for all rail-with-trail proj-
ects is to have an intimate familiarity with the project area and
take into account all variables that may affect the project. For
more information, visit Metro Parks website:
With the tight parameters of land available for
this rail-with-trail development, project manager
Steve Brown of Columbus and Franklin County
Metro Parks warned that it is “important to do
your homework up front on the ground when it
comes to prevailing grades, drainage and utilities
to avoid expensive redesigns and change orders.”
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy)