Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), a D.C. nonprofit organization that works to preserve unused rail corridors by transforming them into rail trails, has announced a new project that will be connecting trails from Washington, D.C. to Washington State.
The project, dubbed Great American Rail-Trail, has been unveiled after 18 months of analysis and collaboration with state agencies and local trail partners, including route assessment options by using data based on 34,000 miles of open trails nationwide.
“At RTC, we’ve known the potential of a coast-to-coast rail-trail for decades. But before we committed to bringing this vision to life, we wanted to be certain it was viable,” said Keith Laughlin, RTC president.
“With open trails comprising more than 50 percent of the potential route, combined with strong local and state enthusiasm, we are now confident that the Great American Rail-Trail can be completed.”
Laughlin added that RTC is ready to head the project to “connect the trail across communities, counties and state lines to create a seamless off-road biking and walking journey for the country.”
We're proud to commit to the Great American Rail-Trail: a nearly 4,000-mile trail from Washington, DC, to Washington State! Explore the the iconic trails—"gateways"—that are making this bold vision possible + learn more about the #GRTAmerican: https://t.co/DWPE8N88ZE! pic.twitter.com/qDYEn475SR
— Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (@railstotrails) January 23, 2019
The proposed route covers 12 states, moving west from its beginning in Washington, D.C. The full route for the trail will be made public in spring 2019. However, RTC has revealed 12 gateway trails that make the Great American Rail-Trail possible.
Laughlin said the project is a bold vision which will take years to complete.
“The investment of time and resources necessary to complete this trail will be returned many times over as it takes its place among the country’s national treasures. As we embark on the journey to complete the Great American Rail-Trail, we embark on the single greatest trail project in the history of the U.S,” noted Laughlin. “One that comes with an important legacy of unity, ambition and access to the outdoors for the nation. One that represents an opportunity to do something big for America.”
Visit www.greatamericanrailtrail.org to know more about Great American Rail-Trail.