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- The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy launched their cross-country trail project last year.
- The trail will connect gaps in existing trails across 12 states from coast to coast.
- So far, the project has secured $18,400,000 in public and private funds.
The coronavirus pandemic has slowed nearly all American businesses save for one: construction — specifically, on a bike trail. Over the last year, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has been quietly working to securing millions of dollars in funds and miles of land to develop for an ambitious national infrastructure project.
“We believe the Great American Rail-Trail will be a transformative project for the nation, as it magnifies on a grand scale the benefits that trails have delivered to communities for decades,” said Ryan Chao, president of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, in a statement when the project launched in May 2019. “Whether bridging gaps within and between communities, creating safe walking and biking access to jobs, transit, shopping and green space; or serving as recreation for cyclists, runners and casual daily explorers, this will be America’s trail.”
More than 80 miles of the Great American Rail-Trail are in development right now across 10 states from Washington, D.C., to Washington state, adding roughly 50 miles to more than 2,000 miles of pre-existing trails across 12 states. The project, which bridges about 95 gaps between more than 145 trails, promises a multi-use cross-country trail that stretches more than 3,700 miles.
“This year has proven how vital projects like the Great American Rail-Trail are to the country. Millions of people have found their way outside on trails as a way to cope with the pandemic,” Chao told the World Economic Forum recently. “As the Great American Rail-Trail connects more towns, cities, states and regions, this infrastructure serves as the backbone of resilient communities, while uniting us around a bold, ambitious and impactful vision.”
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