An organization called the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is in the middle of building a 4,000 mile trail that will stretch from coast to coast of the United States, connecting Washington DC, with Washington state.
The full route for the trail, which will traverse through 12 different states on its way across the country, was announced last year, but this project has been in the works for over 30 years. However, the group admits that the project is only about 52% complete it could take many more years, even decades to finish the whole thing.
Still, they have been making significant progress in recent years and have been slowly putting the trail together, piece by piece. Luckily, we won’t have to wait until the trail is fully available to enjoy the portions that have already been completed. Each year, the RTC will open different sections of the trail, until eventually all of the sections are connected.
In the following map, green sections represent portions of the trail that are completed, and the red sections represent areas that are still being planned. The portions of the map where empty blocks are shown represent the areas where development hasn’t started yet.
The route will also be far safer than many interstate bike paths currently available, as the trail is built along old railways that are out of use, and footpaths where there are no cars. The current projection is that 80% of the trail will be off-road, but the designers are hoping that they can make some small changes to the plan which would allow the whole thing to be 100% independent from sharing space with cars.
The trail will also run through some national parks and other historic sites, so people will have interesting places to stop in their travels.
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Time flies … #FlashBackFriday to 1 year ago, after we had just announced the vision for @greatamericanrailtrail and the #GRTAmerican gateways. . “Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is proud to commit to the @greatamericanrailtrail: a nearly 4,000-mile multiuse trail that will connect communities from Washington, D.C., to Washington State. Today, we're thrilled to announce the 12 iconic trails—"gateways"—that are making possible this bold vision for a coast-to-coast trail. Explore the #GRTAmerican ➡️ greatamericanrailtrail.org (Link in bio)”
Keith Laughlin, RTC president said, “The Great American Rail-Trail is a bold vision…The investment of time and resources necessary to complete this trail will be returned many times over as it takes its place among the country’s national treasures. As we embark on the journey to complete the Great American Rail-Trail, we embark on the single greatest trail project in the history of the U.S.”
In May of 2019 RTC announced that the route would connect 125 existing trails with another 90 “trail gaps,” which are sections that are still in development. It is estimated that some 50 million people will live within 50 miles of the route, once it is completed, making it extremely accessible.