into recreational land, the city and the projectâ€™s governing agency has to contact the railway and railbank the pathway. Railbanking involves a voluntary agreement between the rail company and the trail agency to allow a footpath on the out-ofuse rail line. â€œRailbanking has preserved more than 4,000 miles of rail corridor in 33 states that otherwise would have been abandoned,â€? according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. â€œThere are more than 100 railbanked trails in the United States.â€? Once the rails are railbanked and the metal disposed of, many trail agencies and the local cities decide to use asphalt to create a manageable trail. Along the trail from High Springs to the Santa Fe River exists a piece of history. The rail yard remnants remain hidden among the brush. A roundhouse once sat inside the rail yard, where up to eight engines at a time could be rotated inside the building for repairs.
Weller wants to clear the vegetation to expose the foundation for the old railroad station, and then place signs showcasing the historical landmarks. â€œAs people go through the trails, they can see where the rail used to be and what is was used for,â€? Weller said. â€œIt really builds to the flavor of High Springs, an old railroad town.â€? The trail will create a space for citizens to meet and socialize. Plus, it will be ideal for bicycling. A couple of years ago, Bicycle Florida rode through the small North Florida city, bringing large groups of tourists into the area. â€œNow, the State has recognized that the Rails-to-Trails program is a big economic engine to bring bicycle tourism into Florida,â€? Weller said. Booth agrees, stating that the state advertises the trail on its website. Therefore, the trail creates exposure for the city, reaching out to any person interested in eco-tourism. â€œThe biggest impact is those
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tourists may want to move here,â€? he said. However, the project still has not moved past the planning phase. The city manager estimates it will still be another two to three years before the project is completed. The rail company could speed up the project or delay it. CSX still owns the tracks, and are required to come in and remove the metal before construction on the trails can begin. After the project is completed, High Springs intends to maintain the trails, which would involve mowing, cutting back impeding shrubbery and other such landscaping. Local bicyclists Tom and Linda Hewlett of the Yellow Bellied Sliders Bicycling Society are excited for the future trails. â€œItâ€™s a beautiful trail,â€? Linda said. â€œTrees are growing alongside the path. You canâ€™t see the roads. Itâ€™s all forested. When you get to the river, youâ€™ve gone two miles. But at that part, you can see the inherent beauty.â€? s
â€œWe drive our kids from Steinhatchee everyday to send them to The Rock School because I want them in a safe place, protected from the scary things in this world. Iâ€™m confident theyâ€™re in the best environment and I donâ€™t have to worry about what theyâ€™re learning and what they will come home saying. When I drop them off, I feel good about it... and that makes it
worth the drive!â€? Danielle
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Connecting Faith, Family, & Education
26 | Spring 2013
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