Rails could become trails

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rails to Trails chose this Kansas location as ‘Trail of the month.”

The City of Andalusia is taking the first step toward getting railroad property designated for use as biking or horse trails.

City clerk John Thompson said the city will file the appropriate paperwork with the Surface Transportation Board requesting that the designation be made in lieu of an outright abandonment.

In July, the Alabama and Florida Railway Company filed for the abandonment of 42.9 miles of track through Geneva, Coffee, and Covington counties in Alabama. The corridor runs between the towns of Andalusia and Geneva, and the filing states that the corridor may be suitable for trail use.

“We’ve also asked the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission to being a clearing house of all the cities and counties involved,” Thompson said.

Thompson said the development of the project as a recreation area could be a huge economic boon for the area.

“The line ends at Stanley Avenue in Andalusia,” he said. “If we could develop a campground or other similar business in that area, it could be great for those who come here to use the trails.”

Filing the request does not commit the city to acquire the corridor, but gives time to develop a rail-trail proposal and undertake negotiations with the railroad, according to the website railstotrails.org, which offers advice for developing trails.