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Delaware Rails to Trails Master Plan

Location: Statewide, Delaware Client: Delaware Department of Transportation

JMT staff developed a statewide Master Plan for more than 43 miles of existing or abandoned rail corridors to be converted to recreational spaces.

The State of Delaware sought ways to enhance communities by expanding open spaces for recreational use.  Toward this goal, JMT reviewed railroad corridors throughout the state to identify abandoned, inactive, and publicly-owned active rail corridor segments that potentially would be suitable for shared use Rail-to-Trail (RTT) and/or Rail-with-Trail (RWT) recreational facilities. JMT staff developed a Statewide Master Plan for more than 43 miles of existing or abandoned rail corridors, including analysis of 11 separate corridors in all three Delaware counties.

A key component was the identification and evaluation of the interconnectivity of these potential RTT/ RWT corridors with the existing and proposed statewide trail systems, greenways, and pedestrian/ bicycle networks.  JMT's staff worked closely in partnership with local jurisdictions, agencies, advocacy groups, citizens, and adjacent residential and commercial property owners to maximize the potential for interconnectivity.  Public workshops were held in all counties to facilitate the greatest amount of stakeholder input.

JMT provided a practical and prioritized strategy to pursue the successful re-use of the rail corridors. The Master Plan included an extensive set of appendices that included an environmental conditions report, structural evaluation report, existing conditions and viewsheds of the proposed trails, typical details for signage and markings, and TIP sheets for each trail project.  Additionally, JMT established design standards and operational, maintenance, and safety guidelines for multi-use RTT/RWT facilities that encouraged economic, environmental, and social development.

Full implementation of the plan would result in the addition of 43 miles of off-road trail facilities to Delaware's existing 140+ miles of trail within State parklands, and 150+ miles of trails within other municipal and county parks and State/Federal wildlife refuge areas.

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