Frequently Asked Questions
(1) What is "Rails to Trails"?
A Rails to Trails project is the conversion of a railway into a multi-use pathway that is often utilized for many recreational purposes. Once complete, these paths are also called greenways and often connect multiple greenspaces promoting the connectivity of valuable green infrastructure. These converted rail lines support healthier lifestyles, provide an alternative transportation route, promote local economies, and provide a vital connection between communities.
For more information please click on the link for the Rails to Trails Conservancy and find a trail near you and learn more about this exciting effort occurring throughout the United States.
(2) What is railbanking?
Railbanking preserves a rail line for future use while in the interim, the corridor can be utilized as a trail. Railbanking is a possible option for our trail. Please visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website for more information on railbanking.
(3) What if SEPTA decides that trains should run again?
The lease agreement with SEPTA would stipulate that a particular portion of the transportation system be used as a trail on an interim basis. Should SEPTA decide that the trail be returned to its railroad use, it would be returned immediately to SEPTA. For more information on what a possible lease agreement would look like, download the lease agreement between SEPTA and Montgomery County for the Pennypack Trail.
(4) What are the benefits of "Rails to Trails"?
Individuals have an opportunity to improve their health and develop a healthy lifestyle while teaching future generations the value of health. Child obesity rates are at an all-time high and trails are a great way for our children to "get outside" and experience a fun way to exercise. A rails to trails corridor provides the opportunity to maintain a beautiful greenway and protect our environments life support system commonly referred to as "green infrastructure".
Rails to trails initiatives provide an opportunity to replace years of vine and invasive species growth with new native trees and plants. Many community organizations enjoy maintaining gardens, native plants, and trees along their local trail.
By using rails to trails for "active transportation" (i.e. biking/walking to work, school, shopping districts, etc.) we reduce our Carbon Dioxide emissions. As the local environment is improved, local municipalities often experience economic growth and revitalization of town centers that are connected by a trail. Mixed-use districts have been designed synonymously with many rails to trails projects.
Community Garden along the converted Pennypack rails to trails corridor in Lorimer Park, Montgomery County.
(5) How safe are these trails?
Studies have shown that recreational trails do not generate crime (Greer 2000; Tracy and Hugh 1998). For more information regarding trail safety please refer to the Rails to Trails Conservancy website.
(6) How do trails affect property values?
Existing rails to trails studies have shown a positive correlation between trail proximity and home values (Fuller 2011; Karadeniz 2008). An increase in proximity of a property to a trail increased home values and decreased average sell times for these properties.
(7) Will my taxes increase to support building a trail?
Fortunately, no. Initial funding must come from a combination of private funding, state, and federal grants. Municipalities may choose to utilize funds earmarked for trail construction. Post construction trail maintenance is generally funded by "friends of the trail" groups and many community volunteer organizations.
(8) How can I help?
Please sign our online petition (click here). Your signature will let our local officials and government representatives know that rails to trails in our community is now a priority and requires further discussion and consideration by local and county planning departments.
Take some time to call and/or write your local Board of Supervisors and County Commissioners (click here for sample letter). Let them know that you support a rails to trails initiative along the Fox Chase - Newtown Line. This inactive line is no longer a priority budget item for SEPTA and continues to deterioriate and provide little value to our community. This asset would much better serve our local communities as a source of recreation, nature appreciation, and active transportation.
Support our effort by volunteering your time in these ways:
- Advocating in your neighborhood
- Offering professional services
- Attend local and/or county planning commission and local Board of Supervisors meetings
- Contact us!
Fuller, Dawn. 2011. New research finds that homeowners and city planners should 'hit the trail' when considering property values. Cincinnati, OH: University of Cincinnati.
Greer, Donald L. 2000. Omaha recreational trails: Their effect on property values and public safety. Omaha: University of Nebraska.
Karadeniz, Duygu. 2008. The impact of the Little Miami scenic trail on single family residential property values. Cincinnati, OH: University of Cincinnati.
Tracy, Tammy, and Hugh Morris. 1998. Rail - trails and safe communities. Rails to Trails Conservancy.