Note that Rail-trails are particularly likely to pass important sources of pollution as they follow the rivers through the oldest industrial areas. Indeed, such highly polluting industries were most likely to be built next to railroad tracks to take advantage of the low-cost transportation offered by railroads.
Unfortunately - this Web Site looks like an important resource for planning Rail-trails - and in posting appropriate warning signs for the users of new and old Rail-trails. The Chemical Scorecard makes it easy to find where hazardous chemicals are released in every community, and what their known or suspected effects are to human health.
Have you ever thought of locating a bikeway on a hazardous waste site? There are many legitimate concerns: What is the cost of cleanup? What are the legal risks of becoming the owner of the property? Can we obtain the cooperation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory bodies? What are the benefits, if any, of choosing this location?
Due to a recent change of policy by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), it is not only possible, but may be desirable, to use such a site for a transportation project. This article is about the brownfields concept and a specific project that is implementing this concept.
From cataloging past Listserv discussions, I can pass on a few things that may be helpful:
And these websites:
Obviously, some of these are examples of redeveloping industrial areas, although the Pittsburgh example should include trails that run by areas that are still industrial.Brian Yourish