Tuesday, October 1

Brighton East Rail Trail Ribbon Cutting

This morning I posted on the Book of Face:

"If a government shutdown happens and no one posts about it on Facebook did it really happen?"

It was simply a joke.  For some reason I assumed an agreement would have been reached and the partial shutdown averted.  But somewhere between Clay City and Winchester on the Mountain Parkway (many revelations in my life have come along this stretch of road) I realized I hadn't actually seen the news this morning so I didn't know the outcome.  I turned on NPR (WEKU) and they were doing a fund raiser instead of blathering about breaking news.  So I switched over to the WUKY (pronounced "wookie") and voila!  Blather about the shutdown...

Back to your regularly scheduled blather.

On Monday September 30, 2013 the newest section of the Brighton Rail Trail was dedicated with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the intersection of Polo Club Boulevard and the trail.  With the completion of Phase II of the Brighton Rail Trail there is now 1.85 miles of concrete surface trail extending east beyond I-75 and pointing toward Winchester along the old Lexington - Big Sandy rail corridor.

The short term plan is to connect the Brighton East Rail Trail with Phase IV and the existing Liberty Trail on the west side of Man O’ War with a bridge spanning the busy roadway.  Phase IV of the Brighton Trail is funded and the city is working toward securing funding for the connecting bridge.  The total length of trail at that point will be about 4 miles.

The Brighton Rail Trail had its origins in a vision to build a 100+ mile Big Sandy Rail Trail from Lexington to Ashland along the old railbed.  When the line was abandoned in the mid-eighties by either C&O Railroad or CSX (accounts differ) the state of Kentucky lost an important opportunity for recreational development by not railbanking the line at the time.

 Railbanking (as defined by the National Trails System Act, 16 USC 1247 (d)) is a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and a trail agency to use an out-of-service rail corridor as a trail until some railroad might need the corridor again for rail service. Because a railbanked corridor is not considered abandoned, it can be sold, leased or donated to a trail manager without reverting to adjacent landowners. The railbanking provisions of the National Trails System Act as adopted by Congress in 1983 have preserved 4,431 miles of rail corridors in 33 states that would otherwise have been abandoned.

While Lexington moves forward with the Brighton Rail Trail and other trail initiatives the larger Lexington – Big Sandy project seems to have stalled across the eastern part of the state.

The LBS corridor passes through Winchester, Mount Sterling, Preston, Salt Lick, Morehead, Olive Hill, Coalton, and on into Ashland.  The envisioned rail trail would be 109 miles in length and parallel I-64.

Years ago, before we moved to Colorado, I attended a meeting of the Little Mount Trail Commission in Mount Sterling.  At that time it seemed as if Mount Sterling was moving forward with three miles of trail in the heart of town.  For whatever reason that effort never materialized.  It seems as if only Lexington has deemed the project worthy of pursuing.  That’s a shame, and the citizens of this state and the many visitors that would have been drawn to such a trail from around the country have lost something incalculable.

On the other hand, the Dawkins Line seems to be hugely popular and has been buzzing around state transportation and cycling circles this past summer.  I hope to get the family out to ride it this fall. 

I know many hard core cyclists abhor multi-use paths of all kinds, but I actually like a good long community connecting ribbon of concrete or crusher fines.  If Brighton could connect over to Winchester it would be huge.  Huge.  And it would make it tenfold more feasible for me to bike commute to work.  So I have a selfish ambition there.  But it would still be a good thing!


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