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orulz

The American Tobacco Trail

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It would seem that Norfolk Southern wants to abandon the Durham belt railroad that encircles downtown, and its northern extension to Timberlake. The tracks are still in place on the belt, but the tracks from Durham to Timberlake have been removed.

Norfolk Southern wants to sell the line for $6 million. According to these articles from the June 11th News & Observer, city council and the Durham County Comissioners have each approved $1.5 million to buy the line to cover the 50% local share; the state DOT and federal grants will hopefully be used to acquire the other 50%.

This trail is billed as the the natural extension of the American Tobacco Trail. these people are sort of the champions of the cause. They also have maps and pictures from the area around the old railroad right-of-way. Although this line doesn't meet up perfectly with the Tobacco Trail in downton durham, there's less than half a mile between them and I'm sure the planners could be creative and come up with a connector somehow. That would make for more than 50 miles of ridiculously straight, absurdly flat bike paths.

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I think Durham's move on building trails is a great idea, especially if they can be linked up to public transit. Sort of the rails-trails idea. I'm all for this.

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I just wish that they'd find a way to leave the rails in where they're still there. There's gotta be a way to share the right-of-way like Carrboro did with their trail. I'd love to see something like that on the loop line around downtown Durham. Maybe they could do something like how the Charlotte Trolley started out: get an exemption for the tracks, leave the rails exactly as they are, and run a refurbished trolley with a generator in tow. If the city were to buy the right-of-way and let a non-profit group access it for free, I'm sure there are people who'd be glad to help out by donating their money and time (I'm certainly one of them!)

There's a similar thing going on in Greensboro, where the railroad tracks are going to be torn up to build a trail to the northwest. I think they should leave the tracks in, and try to get something like the Charlotte Trolley, circa 1996, together.

Of course, this would amount to nothing more than a tourist attraction, but it ensures that people are used to the idea of vehicles running on the tracks next to the trail and will make the eventual transition to use as a transit line much smoother.

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An update on this project: it seems that Norfolk Southern abruptly decided not to sell the corridor. The western portion of the Durham Belt Railroad is still for sale, but the line to Timberlake is no longer available, in spite of the fact that there are no rails in place north of I-85.

Incedently, rails are still in place on the Belt Railroad, which runs right next to the future Amtrak station and terminates a stone's throw from the American Tobacco Historic District and the baseball stadium. This would be a great place to run a trolley. Wouldn't it be cool if the loop were completed and trolleys run on it?

Go here for more info.

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An update on this project: it seems that Norfolk Southern abruptly decided not to sell the corridor. The western portion of the Durham Belt Railroad is still for sale, but the line to Timberlake is no longer available, in spite of the fact that there are no rails in place north of I-85.

Incedently, rails are still in place on the Belt Railroad, which runs right next to the future Amtrak station and terminates a stone's throw from the American Tobacco Historic District and the baseball stadium. This would be a great place to run a trolley. Wouldn't it be cool if the loop were completed and trolleys run on it?

Go here for more info.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think building trails on railroads where the tracks have already been pulled up is great - it makes for a heck of a nice bike trail, and it reminds people that the right-of-way is there, too. However, the idea of pulling up rails to build a trail irks me to no end, especially since Carrboro has proven to us that rails and trails can exist in harmony without safety issues and without huge expenditrues on unsightly and excessive fences. The barrier between the rails and the trail in Carrboro consists of a row of small trees, and the trail even crosses the railroad a couple of times. The trolleys that I'd like to see in Durham are much smaller, quieter, and stop much quicker than the two daily round-trip freight trains that run through Carrboro.

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I was digging through some old posts and found orulz's post on the ATT. I was suprised that no one lese has posted anything on this since then, but anyway... I thought I'd post a minor (not new) update on the ATT:

Word is seeping out that the American Tobacco Trail could be expanding.

Eventually, cautions Harris Lake's Lisk.

"The discussions are very preliminary," he adds. "Like early discussions of the ATT in the early '90s."

Here's the scoop: An initial meeting was held last week about building a trail that would run from Raven Rock State Park on the Cape Fear River west of Lillington north to Harris Lake. From there, the trail would run five miles west to the southern terminus of the American Tobacco Trail. It essentially would follow the old rail bed that the ATT follows.

Sound like one long trail? It would be:

  • Raven Rock to Harris Lake: 15 miles.

  • Harris Lake to ATT: 5 miles.

  • ATT (Bonsal to downtown Durham): 23 miles (13 miles of which is completed).

  • Total (from Raven Rock to the Durham Bull's Athletic Park): 43 miles.

Again, Lisk cautions that this multi-use trail is in the early discussion stage, that there are numerous property and permitting issues to resolve.

"We're connecting the dots," Lisk says, "and there are a lot of dots to connect."

Here's an map of the Durham section:

022ATT_DURMAP.jpg

Eventually, there will be a bridge crossing I-40 too.

Here's a map showing the entire ATT trail, and at the end you can see the dashed "extension" that would tie in Raven Ridge and Harris Lake:

021ATT_maptricounty.JPG

att2.jpg

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they would be foolish to remove rail tracks for a walking trail. these tracks could potentially be used for transit purposes in the future. this should've been figured out through the TTA disaster. infrastructure is the most expensive cost involved with starting the railroad.

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The tracks are already gone for pretty much the entire length of the former NHVRR, south from downtown Durham to Bonsal.

There's another rail line, north of Durham to Timberlake, that at one point was contemplated for a rail-trail, but Norfolk Southern has since rescinded its offer to sell the rail line. This is one of the lines that TTA had marked for "future study."

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