Whether you are building a new trail or already maintaining one, it is critical to determine your maintenance costs. Once you determine baseline costs you can more accurately determine if your practices and methods are cost-effective. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, together with several local trail managers, has created a worksheet to enable you to capture your maintenance costs and compare them to other trails. Some examples are given in the table below.
Using essential maintenance task-costs submitted by trail managers via the worksheet, RTC has been able to create the table above to quickly give a general sense of the routine maintenance cost per mile of various types of multiuse trails in different regions of the United States. This information helps trail managers gain an understanding of the wide range of costs, help determine what a new project’s costs will be, or make some general comparisons to their existing trail. However, solely relying on other examples is not accurate enough. You need to prepare your own budget.
The survey worksheet and the routine maintenance costs table are continuation of the work done on Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s (RTC’s) 2015 study, Maintenance Practices and Costs of Rail-Trails which details the results of a comprehensive survey of 200 trail managers on the type, scheduling and costs of major maintenance tasks. They represent the distilling of the study’s 117 questions into four broad, general categories: surface, vegetation, amenities and cleanliness.
This is just the start of a more robust list of data points that can help inform maintenance costs and best practices for many types of trails, locations and other variables. If you would like to share your data with RTC, please contact Northeast Regional Director, Tom Sexton at firstname.lastname@example.org.