“That in addition to the negative impact on the landowners, the proposed trail with its unavoidable carbon footprint and tax increases for maintenance, will also destroy the habitat for countless migrating and nesting ducks, raptors, birds, and mammals. It will directly impact the nesting site of countless snapping turtles, painted turtles, and other amphibians, not to mention the deer, bobcat, fishers, coyotes, raccoons, mink, weasels, turkeys, otters, possums, fox, and bear – which all live, nest, and roam throughout the area. ” B. Foster, February 7, 2017

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The Delaware, Lackawanna, & Western Railroad Company removed the tracks when it abandoned the line in 1956, but did nothing to remediate the barren land. Railroad ties, a thick bed of cinders, and various bits of scrap metal were left behind.img_7585

It has been 60 years since nature began its reclamation of the rail bed. In most places, the surface of the old rail bed has not been disturbed, allowing it to become habitat for thousands of trees and other plant and animal life.

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Installing a trail through pristine woods, fields, streams, and 4 working farms between Burns Road and Middaugh Road would destroy this habitat and may expose intersecting creeks and surrounding land, humans, and wildlife to pollution from toxic coal ash. 

Lead, Arsenic a risk on Utah Bike Trails?

Railroad Ties and Pesticides Blamed for Rail Trail Contamination

Considering Contamination in a Rail-Trail Conversion

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Large trees have reclaimed the old railroad bed, and have grow up through old railroad ties.

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The narrow cut-and-fill constructed in 1832 across numerous creeks is unstable and has washed out repeatedly, leaving it impassable without massive, expensive, and ecologically devastating construction work.

This deep ravine is the result of a clogged culvert many years ago, which caused water to pool upstream, eventually washing out the fill.

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According to government officials, “There are no plans to disturb the current railbed surface in the development of Phase A and B. In addition, any new surface would likely be crushed stone and/or stone dust, which would be laid directly onto the existing surface. For any future work in an area where railroad ties need to be removed or significant trail construction undertaken, such as in the Phase C section, an approach would be developed which minimizes disturbance that could cause materials to migrate off-site.”

As you can see from these photographs, this is obviously not true. There is no way to approach filling in or bridging this ravine that would “minimize disturbance that could cause materials to migrate off-site”. 

Preliminary cost estimates from June 17, 2008 suggest the towns/county’s plan for this washout is to use “material borrowed from adjacent RR grade sections. Adjacent RR grade sections would be cut down to depth of +/- 16′ at washout, graded back to original grade level +/-200′ from washout gap at +/- 8.33% gradient in order to provide borrow material”. 

  • Planners estimate that after regrading the ravine with borrowed material from adjacent land, 11,264 cubic yards of fill will be purchased from a strip mine in Brooktondale and used to fill in the ravine
  • 11,264 cubic yards of fill is EQUIVALENT TO 805 DUMP TRUCK LOADS, or enough to fill nearly 4 Olympic-sized swimming pools
  • 11,264 cubic yards of fill for ONE WASHOUT means a dump truck each hour, Monday-Friday, for all 8 work hours each day, for 20 weeks
  • In 2008 dollars, 11,264 cubic yards of fill will cost the towns and county $87,410.19, and this is only to fill in ONE washout along the corridor.There are other washouts between Burns Road and Middaugh Road. Past Middaugh Road, large sections of the old rail bed are under water, and filling in the swamp will destroy a designated natural area “Willseyville Beaver Ponds”
  • Regrading this ravine will disturb the bed of coal cinders, which, in other rail-trails, have been found to contain toxic substances such as arsenic and lead.

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