Trails in place of rails would be good thing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Covington County Commission this week opted to stall this week on an issue that seems to us to be a no-brainer.

A group of outdoor enthusiasts who would like to see the recently abandoned 43.8-mile long rail corridor between Andalusia and Geneva become a trail has asked for governmental support in the form of resolutions – not money, not in-kind work – but a document stating they agree it’s a good idea.

The organizing group hopes to ask Forever Wild, a land trust that has purchased more than 227,000 acres of land for public use since 1992, to work with them to acquire the property, which it would then seek funding to develop.

CSX owns the abandoned rail property, but has removed the rails. Members of the coalition said the property has a $2 million price tag.

Already, Andalusia, Opp, and governmental entities in Geneva County have passed the requested resolutions. This week, the Covington County Commission stalled.

District 2 Commissioner Joe Barton made a motion that the item be tabled, citing concerns from landowners in his district with property adjacent to portions of the proposed tracks of land.

“I’ve heard concerns from landowners with property that runs up against some of the rails,” Barton said. “They are just wanting to know if the trails will be fenced off, or if people on the trails could just get off and come onto their property.”

One doesn’t hear much about long-distance cyclists, hikers or distance runners trespassing or causing harm to other people’s property. If one could live with a heavy freight train running by or through one’s property, it seems a cyclist would be a welcome guest, minus noise and pollution.

Even with resolutions in place, there is much work ahead to make this project a reality. But the reality would be a tourism boon for our county, drawing even more enthusiasts here to enjoy the beauty of our area.

We hope commissions will pass the resolution at their next meeting.