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HomeRails to Trails - Going Forward

Rails to Trails - Going Forward

Key factors to encourage rail trails in Oklahoma:

1. Preserve rail right-of-way as an asset for the economic benefit and security of the people of Oklahoma. (Already Federal policy via RTP rail banking; national economic and security needs. OK to mirror US Code.)

2. Release owners of right-of-way (railroad operators, municipal, and private) and adjacent landowners from liability. (Already in OK Statutes for private landowners permitting recreational use of their property. Requires amendment or new legislation protecting adjacent landowners.)

3. Clearly define permitted uses, i.e. hiking, cycling, equestrian, and prohibited uses, i.e. motorized vehicles (except for maintenance), hunting. (Suggested but not specific in existing Statutes.) 

4. Encourage partnerships between railroad companies, state agencies (ODOT, ODTR), metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) i.e. ACOG & INCOG, local communities, non-profits (Land Legacy), and private citizens to plan, build, maintain rail trails across jurisdictional boundaries. (Partially addressed in existing Statutes on disposal and sale of abandoned right-of-way. Requires amendment or new legislation to assure right-of-way remains intact for future use by an operator, and permits trails across jurisdictional boundaries outside the major two metro MSA.) 

5. Protect adjacent landowner’s right to purchase abandoned right of way. (Current statute exists.)

Recommendations from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

The Active Transportation Policy Hub (a.k.a. State Policy Hub) is a searchable database mostly of state legislation showing different ways states have attempted (and succeeded) in funding trails. If you find something that might work in OK, you could bring the bill language (even from another state) and that would make it much easier for a legislator/staffer to use to draft a bill for OK than just going in empty-handed and asking them to fund active transportation. There are also case studies (“Success Stories”).

We also have 8 signature trail network projects around the U.S., called TrailNation. The closest one to you is the Lower Rio Grande Valley Active Plan in South Texas. These projects may be good models for starting trail networks in your area (in addition, there have 12 additional TrailNation Collaborative projects we invitated to our TrailNation Summit last year – including NOLA, Memphis, St. Louis, Houston, Colorado Springs, and Lincoln, Neb.)


Success Stories

To see examples of Successful Rail Trail projects - Click HERE

  - Northern Rail Trail — Merrimack County, New Hampshire 
  - Weiser River Trail, Idaho
  - North Coast Inland Trail — Huron County, Ohio
  - Ohio to Erie Trail, Ohio
  - Sacramento Northern Parkway, California
  - Guadalupe River Parkway, California
  - Reedley Community Parkway, California

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