Imagine what’s possible with a trail that connects us coast to coast.
“My dream is that one day you could go across this entire country ... on flat, wide, off-road paths. I want rail-trails to be America’s main street.”
– David Burwell, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Co-Founder, in Rails to Trails Magazine, 2006
The journey to build the Great American Rail-Trail will be exciting.
When Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) was founded in 1986, just a handful of rail-trails dotted the landscape. Today, there are more than 2,000 rail-trails crisscrossing the countryside and another 8,000 miles of rail-trails ready to be built. These trails are well loved and connect people across towns and cities nationwide, but they could do even more. These rail-trails could connect counties, states and regions—the entire country, from coast to coast. Like the railroad charted a course to connect the East and West more than a century ago, rail-trails can do the same.
At RTC, we’ve known the potential of a coast-to-coast rail-trail for decades.
Until recently, we weren’t sure it was a realistic pursuit. Analyses implemented in the past few years of open rail-trails and out-of-service rail corridors show the potential to build a rail-trail that spans from Washington to Washington. Any number of possible routes are more than 50 percent complete and span nearly 4,000 miles. And demand for rail-trails and the benefits they bring—from economic gains to physical health and wellness—is high. People understand the value of trails, and they want them in their communities.
The time to build the Great American Rail-Trail is now. Here are the facts.
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