D&RGW Rails To Trails

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From rails to trails

By Lynn Arave
Deseret Morning News, Friday, May 27, 2005

UTA making grand plans for former train track

In five years or so, walkers, bicyclists, runners and horseback riders will have reason to rejoice as the former Denver and Rio Grande railroad corridor is developed into a first-class trail.

The Utah Transit Authority gained property rights to the rail corridor, just west of the active Union Pacific rail line, in September of 2002.

The 66-foot-wide corridor runs from 400 North in West Bountiful to Nye's Corner in northeast Roy, Weber County -- 23.69 miles. The line includes an approximate 20-mile path through the majority of Davis County.

According to Justin Jones, UTA spokesman, the timeline of the path's development depends on funding and correlation , with the cities crossed by the trail.

[Photo Caption] The former Denver and Rio Grande railroad corridor, seen near the Kaysville-Farmington border, is almost perfectly level. UTA envisions having parallel equestrian and paved trails. Lynn Arave, Deseret Morning News

There are no exact costs per mile available yet for the trail.

However, a two-mile portion of the corridor, in Clinton and Clearfield, could be developed as early as this summer, at a the cost of $400,000. How this segment turns out could well be model for the rest of the trail, which will be developed in stages.

Barry Burton, assistant community development director of Davis County, said the county is loo percent behind the project. "We're in the process of creating a master trail plan," he said, that will outline how the old rail corridor could tie into other area trails. "We're trying to plan for links." Someday the trail could link to Layton's Kays Creek Trail, Farmington's Creek Trail and sections of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Since the corridor parallels the future commuter rail path in Davis County, it may also provide indirect access to light-rail users.

UTA has posted "no trespassing" signs along the corridor. While this level area with a cinder base looks ready now, liability and maintenance issues make it off limits for now. "We'd just as soon people stay off of it," Jon Cluff, project engineer planner for UTA, said. Providing safe pedestrian access across busy streets, like Kaysville's 200 North and Layton's Gordon Ave., remains perhaps the biggest challenge for UTA. In some areas, UTA may divert pedestrian traffic to the nearest crosswalk. A few areas, such as Antelope Drive on the Clearfield-Layton border, already have an overpass in place for the trail.

ATV use has already been noticed on a section of the path in West Layton. UTA encourages the public to report such misuse of the trail.

UTA envisions paving a 10-foot-wide portion of the corridor. An adjacent equestrian trail would likely be 18-24 inches wide. The corridor is almost perfectly level.

[Photo Caption] The rails and railroad ties, seen here in Farmington, have been torn out since the last train rolled through in the mid-'80s. Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News

Another issue that needs to be hashed out is ongoing maintenance of the trail by the individual cities.

While some may find it odd that UTA, an entity best known for bus and light-rail transportation, has a stake in such a trail, Jones said it really isn't strange. "We're into alternate modes of transportation," he said.

Burton said the trail will end at 400 North in West Bountiful, where the rail corridor merges with the main U.P. tracks. However, he said, once the Legacy Highway is built, it will also include an adjacent trail. Linking up the trails would make it possible to take a non-motorized trip from Roy to Salt Lake City someday.

Linked to the Jordan River Parkway and others, it would provide access to go even farther south. Burton's also keen on the Denver and Rio Grande corridor because much of the growth in Davis County is taking place in the same area.

The Denver and Rio Grande ran its last train on the old line around 1985. Union Pacific has since torn up all the steel railroad track and wooden railroad ties. The crossing guards are all gone and cities have paved over the old intersections.

Burton hasn't heard any negative talk about the trail plan. Many nearby residents would probably rather have a trail in their back yards than a busy, noisy railroad line.

Consideration is being given to allowing S&S Shortline Railroad in Farmington to link onto a portion of the Denver and Rio Grande railroad corridor. Owner Steve Flanders wants to put his 24-inch-wide track on the old railroad roadbed. UTA has no objection to that plan, as long as it's made compatible with the other trail uses for the corridor.

[Photo Caption] Someday walkers, runners and riders will be welcome here, but until the trail is developed, UTA wants the public to stay off the corridor. Lynn Arave, Deseret Morning News

© 2005 Deseret News Publishing Company