In just the past half decade, rails-to-trails conversions have blossomed en masse. New York City has its High Line (and will eventually have a Low Line), while Chicago now has The 606. Atlanta’s BeltLine is under construction with an expected completion by 2030. It seems that every city wants a rails to trails project, and now Vancouver has taken concrete steps toward joining that club. Earlier this March, the City of Vancouver made a deal with Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) to convert an old railway into a walking and biking greenway. The city will pay $C55 million (about $U.S.40 million) for the just over 5.5 mile corridor that would start near False Creek (in the heart of the city), run south to Marpole (at the city's edge), and continue further to the west of Highway 99. “CP Rail has owned the land for more than a century, but it hasn't run trains on it for about 15 years. Vancouver had previously offered to buy the land, but the two sides could never agree on a price,” reported CBC News in Canada. “At one point, CP argued that the land was worth $[C]400 million, a figure the city disputed.” The dispute between the city and CP made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2006, which gave the city the right to develop the land. But it also effectively railbanked the Arbutus corridor, which will allow CP to carry light rail next to the future walking and biking path. The proposed greenway development is expected to cost up to $35 million. The first rail trail in the U.S.—the Wisconsin Elroy-Sparta State Trail—opened in 1967. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit, is trying to create trail systems within 3 miles of 90% of Americans by 2020. To learn more, here is a searchable database and interactive map of U.S. rails-to-trails.
Posts tagged with "rails-to-trails":
Call it High Line fever: since the first leg of James Corner and Diller Scofidio + Renfro's High Line debuted in 2009, High Line–like projects have popped up all over the city and across the country. Now, not ten miles from the original, the Bronx may be slated for its very own rail-to-park conversion. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to transform an unused slice of below grade train track in Mott Haven into a "lowline." The block-long site, bounded by Brook Avenue, East 156th Street, St. Ann's Avenue, and East 150th Street, is owned by CSX. In order to reclaim the space for parkland, the city would need to buy or seize the land from the railroad company. On a visit to the site in September, Mayor de Blasio deplored the condition of the trash strewn corridor, which doubles as a homeless encampment. Soon after the mayor's visit, city workers cleared out the belongings of the residents and removed debris from the site. Sandwiched between schools and their athletic fields, the lowline would be adjacent to mixed income housing projects Melrose Commons and Via Verde.
This abandoned rail corridor in Singapore will soon be a nationwide linear park, and these firms are competing to design it
Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has shortlisted five winning design firms for an RFP to overhaul the Singapore Rail Corridor. Defunct since 2011 and once a prominent Singapore–Malaysia trade route, the railway spans the entire country from north to south starting at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to the Woodlands Checkpoint. A competition launched by the URA requested proposals to transform the 15-mile stretch into a public greenway connecting four important urban nodes: Buona Vista, the Bukit Timah Railway Station area, former Bukit Timah Fire Station, and Kranji. The five shortlisted design teams are as follows:
- West 8 and DP Architects
- Grant Associates and MVRDV with Architects 61
- Turenscape International and MKPL Architects
- Nikken Sekkei with Tierra Design
- OLIN Partnership and OMA Asia with DP Architects
Chicago's long-awaited bikeway and elevated park, The 606, opened last weekend (on 6/6, no less) to a rush of pedestrians and cyclists who were eager to test out the new 2.7-mile trail after years of planning, design and construction. The public park remains extremely popular in the sunny week following its debut. https://vimeo.com/130217662 Formerly called the Bloomingdale Trail, the former railroad has been likened to New York City's High Line, but it is quite different—the 606 is as much a highway for bikes as anything else, due in part to its having been largely funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) improvement program. For those who haven't had a chance to visit the trail, Steven Vance of Streetsblog snapped this time-lapse video of a recent bike ride that covers the length of the trail, which runs through the West Side neighborhoods of Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park, and West Town. (Vance is also a contributor to AN.) https://instagram.com/p/3tlNEuERTh/ Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates led the design of the trail, which slopes slightly at various points throughout its length to slow bike traffic and suggest spaces for community events. Several access points connect the elevated trail to parks and city streets below. Meanwhile with The 606 up and running, affordable housing advocates are worried the popular park could help swell the tide of gentrification sweeping out longtime neighborhood residents. https://instagram.com/p/3t4zaOCP0J/
The City of Atlanta has announced a competition for the design of an outdoor cultural pavilion for prominent display on the Westside trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. The BeltLine is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development ever undertaken by the City of Atlanta, and among the largest urban redevelopment programs in the US, providing affordable workforce housing, brownfield remediation, public art, and historic preservation. The National Pavilion Design Competition seeks designs for the second pavilion in a series of small, multi-purpose artistic pavilions occupying green spaces along the BeltLine as part of the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine program, which represents the South’s largest outdoor temporary art exhibition. The culture-conscious platform engages hundreds of artists to display visual and performing arts in the parks and along the trails of the BeltLine. The pavilion’s prospective location at the intersection of the Westside trail and Allene Avenue poises it to become an iconic landmark for the Adair Park community and its surrounding historic neighborhood. In the spirit of fostering community gathering, the Atlanta BeltLine is also seeking designs for a permanent performance space at Adair Park. Design-wise, the facility should represent the quality art and architecture which the BeltLine strives to embody. The competition is seen to straddle the fields of art, architecture, landscape architecture, and the pedestrian experience, as well as provide a catalyst for economic development. “This competition demonstrates that small yet exceptional design can offer huge benefits for Atlanta communities,” said Melody Harclerode, President of AIA Atlanta and manager of the National Pavilion Design Competition. The only eligibility requirement is that an individual or team member be a licensed architect holding active AIA membership. The first place winner stands to receive a $10,000 cash prize, while a $5,000 and $3,000 prize are up for grabs for the second and third place winners respectively. The competition represents a partnership between AIA Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine Inc., and the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
A video released last week gives Clevelanders the clearest picture yet of plans for a greenway beside the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's Red Line. The idea has drawn comparisons to New York’s High Line or Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail (aka The 606). The Rotary Club of Cleveland on Wednesday revealed their plans for the Red Line Greenway, a 3-mile linear park that would run from the Zone Recreation Center at West 65th Street to downtown Cleveland using a right-of-way next to the RTA's Red Line. At a meeting last week, Rotary member sought public input on the $13 million project, over which they've signed a memorandum of understanding with Cleveland Metroparks and RTA. A fundraising campaign is forthcoming, said supporters including the Rotary's Leonard Stover. The federal government has provided the three-phase project a $2 million grant—a little less than half the cost of the first leg, an extension from the RTA viaduct west to West 41st Street. Construction would not begin before 2019, Stover told Steven Litt of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Litt has the Rotary's full presentation on the newspaper's website.
The City of Chicago broke ground Tuesday on the Bloomingdale Trail, or the 606 to use the combined name for the elevated trail and its five access parks, fulfilling a promise and long-term planning process that dates back years. Walsh Construction Company won the $53.7 million contract, which city officials told the Sun-Times was $5.2 million lower than the closest competition. The city plans to use $50 million in federal money to pay for construction. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office said the trail is being built in phases, and “will be open end-to-end in Fall 2014, with additional construction phases continuing to embellish landscaping and other amenities.” The 2.7-mile abandoned freight rail viaduct runs through several West Side neighborhoods, many of which have brought together community groups to help plan for the project. Meanwhile Chicago Magazine’s Dennis Rodkin answers a question in his column about investing in real estate along The 606. The neighborhoods—Noble Square, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, and Logan Square—have always been good places to invest, and the 606’s route is “icing on the cake,” he says. “Also, you may be coming at this late. Real estate developers have had their eye on the potential of the Bloomingdale Trail for several years.”
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] “The Red Line” could be Cleveland’s answer to New York's High Line or Chicago's Bloomingdale Trail, rails-to-trails projects that have captured the imaginations of their respective cities as an answer to questions surrounding transportation, aging infrastructure and urban placemaking. The Rotary Club of Cleveland is pushing the idea of a three-mile greenway connecting five city neighborhoods to downtown. That would make the old RTA Red Line trail longer than both the High Line and the Bloomingdale Trail. The Rotary Club initiated a cleanup and rehabilitation of the ravine next to the Red Line more than 30 years ago. That project became an urban gardening project called ParkWorks, and eventually spawned LAND Studio. Studies of that “Rapid Recovery” project estimated finishing the greenway would cost between $5.1 million and $5.5 million. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter]
From the mid-17th to the mid-19th century, crowds of Londoners sought entertainment at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, located on the south bank of the River Thames. The acres of greenery that made up the garden were once the site of numerous whimsical attractions, including tight-rope walkers, concerts, fireworks, and narrow winding walkways perfect for amorous adventures. Today the neighborhood of Vauxhall, located in the heart of Nine Elms, is mostly known for the railway arches that slice across the neighborhood, disconnecting it from the riverside and labeling it as the “missing link” between the New US Embassy Quarter and London’s South Bank. In an effort to revive and reconnect the historic neighborhood The Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) and Vauxhall One, an organization dedicated to making Vauxhall a safer, cleaner, and better place for business, created the Vauxhall Missing Link Competition. They invited registered architects, landscape designers, and urban designers to submit their ideas for “an outstanding new addition to the urban environment.” The new plans for Vauxhall, which aim to seamlessly merge a vibrant green environment within an urban setting, unmistakably mimic those of the New York City High Line. According to the competition brief, the intention behind the new scheme is to “Reconnect the disjointed parts of the neighborhood, to build a better visual perception of Vauxhall beyond its roundabouts and roads and to create an identifiable pathway and narrative through the area, linking the railway arches, green spaces and public art into a distinctive place once again.” Erect Architecture and J&L Gibbons won the international competition with their imaginative design titled “The Promenade of Curiosities.” Chris Law, Public Realm and Development Director for Vauxhall One, said in a statement, “Erect/ J&L Gibbons entry was really special. It has so many quirky and innovative features. We really want to make a difference by regenerating Vauxhall through green and sustainable measures and their entry was outstanding.” Inspired by the historic Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and the New York City High Line, the firm designed a contemporary promenade that will feature a series of permanent and temporary art installations. It incorporates lush rain gardens, which will be equipped with sustainable drainage systems and will feature green pathways lined with curiously pruned trees and paved with different textures, creating a fanciful setting reminiscent of the historic gardens. The new project is part of a larger masterplan that involves the transformation of the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Area (VNEB). The first phase of development, the Regeneration of the Rail Arches, is already underway. Vauxhall One commissioned a different architect to work on each individual arch so that the end result will be a series of distinct, uniquely designed arches that will no longer barrier the neighborhood from the riverfront, but hopefully create a safe and vivid walkway and bicycle path that will link visitors to it.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the city of Edmonton was considered one of Canada’s most important rail hubs. For over two decades the trains that once made Edmonton a prominent center of economic activity have ceased to run along those tracks, and the historic freight yard has remained vacant. Over the years a prominent old overpass connecting 97th Street to Edmonton’s downtown rail yards has morphed into a poorly finished, unattractive concrete pedestrian walkway and bicycle path. This weekend designers Chelsea Boos, Carmen Douville, and Erin Ross, will begin working on a project to revitalize the historic landmark. According to the Edmonton Journal the artists, with the help of a group of volunteers, will bring the bridge back to life by planting 25 circular raised beds filled with vibrant flowers, indigenous plants, and edible crops from which visitors can actually pick fruit from. The trio aims to transform the old bridge into an open public garden that will continue to attract cyclists and pedestrians as well as provide local residence with a green outdoor space to relax while enjoying views of downtown and Chinatown. The project, which is undeniably resonant of New York City’s High Line, aims to bring community members together through the creation of a mural painting and future events that will be hosted on the site. Despite the rough neighborhood surrounding the bridge, the designers, who are passionate about urban projects dedicated to improving city life, insist on leaving the park open to the public in the hopes that visitors will be respectful of the property and even be inclined to help maintain it.
Two students in Milwaukee have grand plans for their own version of the High Line, or Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail, albeit at ground level. The 2.4-mile trail would connect racially segregated neighborhoods and turn an abandoned railroad line into an outdoor artwalk. Keith Hayes and Rob Zdanowski crafted a profile of the geo-textile called "matireal" that they hope will comprise Milwaukee’s “Artery” — an 18-inch-by-4-foot reduction of car tires set in a polycarbonate case. Some of the materials come directly from the trail itself, including the tires’ rubber and the gravel that fills the cells in between. The trail itself would feature interactive art installations along its southeastern meander from predominantly African-American Harambee to middle-class, Caucasian Riverworks Center. Milwaukee grabbed headlines last year after 2010 census results revealed it is, by some accounts, the most segregated city in America. This obviously goes much deeper than public space can address on its own, but The Artery could help by physically bridging the steep hill and six-lane highway that serve to separate the two neighborhoods. Milwaukee has expressed interest in the project, even suggesting that it has federal funding for the first two-thirds of a mile of the project. The Youth Council of the City of Milwaukee has also awarded The Artery $25,000 in grants. A half-funded Kickstarter campaign for $10,000 would help realize the idea, too.
Last night, updated plans for Chicago's Bloomingdale Trail were presented at a public meeting—the public session's last chance to comment on the design before final plans are presented this December. The trail is an elevated linear park designed by a team including Collins Engineers, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and Frances Whitehead on a former rail viaduct running through Chicago. AN contributor and sustainable transit enthusiast Steven Vance attended the meeting at the Humboldt Park Field House, recapping the event on the GRID Chicago blog. Among the details confirmed at the meeting, construction is set to begin summer 2013. While the trail will open for bikers and pedestrians in Fall 2014, landscaping and art installations will continue into 2015. Plans put the elevated linear park into sharper focus, revealing exactly how pedestrians and cyclists can enter the trail at various points accentuated with parks, plazas, and public art. The viaduct will be recontoured to connect with the street and provide a dynamic experience throughout the park. You can download a PDF of the full presentation here, which includes some nearly finalized designs and plans for the long-anticipated rails-to-trails park system. Click on a thumbnail below to launch the slideshow.