Here are some of the major events that have contributed to the creation and evolution of RTC and the rail-trail movement.
Oct. 2, 1968
National Trails System Act signed into law.
Jan. 1, 1976
The Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act (known as the 4R Act) included a little-noticed section setting up a Rails-to-Trails Grant Program. The 4R Act was to provide funding, information exchange and technical assistance in order to preserve the corridor and create trails.
Feb. 1, 1986
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy opens its doors with 250 miles of open rail-trail on the ground.
Sept. 8, 1986
Governor John Ashcroft (R-Mo.) files the first railbanking application for the 185-mile Katy Trail, and in June 1987, Missouri Legislature votes to convert the corridor.
Jan. 1, 1987
RTC hits 400 members.
Oct. 4, 1988
President Ronald Reagan signs the National Trails System Improvement Act of 1988, securing the government's interest in federally granted rights-of-way.
Dec. 1, 1988
RTC membership jumps to 7,000.
Jan. 1, 1989
The 200th rail-trail opens with the Hart-Montague Bicycle Trail State Park (22.5 miles) in Michigan.
Feb. 21, 1990
U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upholds the constitutionality of railbanking.
March 1, 1991
RTC has 40,000 members at its five-year mark.
Nov. 3, 1991
Congress enacts ISTEA, the federal law that helps fund rail-trails.
Dec. 18, 1991
The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act is signed into law. The Transportation Enhancements (TE) program is introduced in the bill.
Jan. 1, 1993
RTC reaches 547 open rail-trails totaling 6,757 miles.
June 4, 1994
The 600th rail-trail is opened with the Monon Trail in Indiana.
Jan. 1, 1995
RTC reaches 66,800 members.
March 7, 1996
RTC wins the President's Council on Sustainable Development award under President Clinton for "promoting a community-enhancing program that is both economically sound and environmentally friendly.”
June 1, 1996
RTC reaches 800 rail-trails and 5,000 open rail-trail miles.
Sept. 1, 1997
The 900th rail-trail opens with the Raccoon River Trail in Iowa.
Dec. 10, 1997
Railstotrails.org is launched.
June 9, 1998
TEA-21, the Federal law that helps fund rail-trails, is signed into law.
June 9, 1998
ISTEA is reauthorized as the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). The bill increases funding for the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program.
Oct. 1, 1998
RTC reaches 1,000 rail-trails.
Oct. 5, 1998
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton launches the National Millennium Trails Program and a partnership with RTC.
Aug. 16, 2000
RTC launches TrailLink.com.
Dec. 1, 2000
RTC reaches 83,851 members.
June 1, 2003
RTC reaches 12,000 miles of rail-trails with the 3.5-mile Middlesex Greenway in New Jersey.
Sept. 4, 2003
The U.S. House of Representatives votes (327 to 90) to restore funding to the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program.
Sept. 1, 2004
RTC opens its first of four regional offices in Pennsylvania, combining its Pennsylvania and Massachusetts offices and adding Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont to the region.
Board of directors adds “...to build healthier places for healthier people” to RTC’s mission, reflecting benefits of trails related to healthy people, economies and environments, beyond those anticipated when RTC was created.
July 29, 2005
After 12 extensions spanning two years, the new federal surface transportation legislation was passed to reauthorize TEA-21. The new bill is titled SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users).
Aug. 10, 2005
SAFETEA-LU is signed into law.
Oct. 1, 2005
RTC opens its second regional office in Ohio, adding Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to its region.
Jan. 1, 2006
RTC opens its third regional office in California, adding Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington to the region.
Mapping initiative launched.
RTC worked with Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and supporters to pass legislation protecting TE from disproportionate rescission cuts. As a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation is legally required to limit the amount each state can cut from its TE program.
July 1, 2007
RTC launches the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. Twenty-five exemplary rail-trails will be named to the Hall of Fame over the course of the next five years.
America reaches 15,000 miles of open rail-trails.
Aug. 8, 2007
Nearly 300 attendees from 40 states and three countries attend RTC's national TrailLink conference in Portland, Oregon, where RTC kicks off its "2010 Campaign for Active Transportation."
Oct. 20, 2008
RTC presents its groundbreaking Active Transportation for America report to Congress. The report quantifies—for the first time—the national benefits of bicycling and walking.
RTC launches the Urban Pathways Initiative, a three-year program aimed at encouraging healthy opportunities for physical activity in urban communities.
RTC donates more than 12,000 miles of GIS trail data to Google; this donation is instrumental in the Google Biking Directions launch.
Feb. 1, 2011
RTC marks its 25th anniversary and reaches nearly 20,000 miles of rail-trails.
RTC releases its Active Transportation Beyond Urban Centers report, which puts forth evidence that walking and biking is valued not just in metropolitan areas, but in small towns and rural areas as well.
RTC takes a lead role in the Circuit Coalition to help complete a 750-mile regional trail system, creating crucial links in the Greater Philadelphia region to neighborhoods, business districts and natural areas.
RTC launches the first annual Opening Day for Trails.
June 29, 2012
MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, is signed into law, reducing federal investment in active transportation and consolidating three core programs from SAFETEA-LU, Transportation Enhancements (TE), Safe Routes to School (SRTS) and the Recreational Trails Program (RTC), under a new Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). RTC and its supporters continue to mobilize.
RTC publishes America’s Rails-with-Trails, the most comprehensive report on the topic in more than a decade, based on 20 years of data collection and study.
25,000 miles of multi-use trails mapped on TrailLink.
RTC and partners in Wisconsin develop a vision for the Route of the Badger, a 500-plus mile trail network that will create vital connections in the southeast part of the state.
RTC takes a leadership role in the Power of 32+, a regional trail project that will eventually connect 52 counties in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York, becoming the single largest destination trail network in the country.
Feb. 11, 2014
RTC and the Partnership for Active Transportation develop the federal policy platform, Safe Routes to Everywhere, calling on the federal government to increase its investment dedicated to active transportation and integrate health concerns into transportation decisions and policy.
TrailLink hits 1 million email addresses registered.
RTC launches T-MAP, the nation’s first nationwide survey of urban trail use, to create a new set of models for urban trail planning and development in America.
RTC takes the helm to create the Bay Area Trails Collaborative, a 40-organization-strong group dedicated to promoting policy, political and financial support for trails in California's San Francisco Bay Area.
The results of the federally funded Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program are announced, revealing that investments in four communities were responsible for averting 85.1 million vehicle miles traveled between 2009 and 2013.
RTC reaches more than 160,000 members and supporters and more than 21,000 miles of rail-trails, used by tens of millions of Americans every year.
RTC helps lead a successful statewide campaign in Missouri to have the abandoned 145-mile Rock Island Line railbanked for future trail development.
RTC launches national Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund to support local rail-trail projects around the country.
RTC’s database of supporters exceeds 1 million records; 25 million trail users served on TrailLink.com.
RTC members and supporters help defend funding for trails and bike/ped projects in the FAST Act, the new federal transportation bill, which was signed into law on Dec. 4. The act also makes TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Investment Act) financing more accessible to small and rural communities for active-transportation infrastructure.