Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter 

Pullman Civic Trust urges rail banking for CAP trail


July 26, 2018

Representatives of the Pullman Civic Trust gave a presentation to county commissioners Monday, July 16, on the proposed railbanking of the Colfax-Albion-Pullman Corridor.

Bobbie Ryder, president of Pullman Civic Trust, explained that they advocate for the 19-mile stretch to be turned into a trail for bicyclists/walkers/joggers, which could connect to trails into Idaho, which she said would result in economic and other benefits to the area.

“Rail lines are great because they are flat,” Ryder said.

She talked about the proposed CAP trail – Colfax-Albion-Pullman – which could connect to the eight-mile Bill Chipman Palouse Trail to Moscow, which connects to the Latah trail, a 14-mile path to Troy, Idaho, which then connects to the Bear Creek Canyon Trail.

The CAP Corridor is owned by the state of Washington and overseen by the Department of Transportation. Its status is an active rail line, though it is not used now for trains.

The rails remain in place.

In order to create the trail, the state would need to agree to railbank the line, which would turn over responsibility for maintaining it to a non-profit group, such as the Pullman Civic Trust.

A railbanked line could be reclaimed by the state at any time if necessary.

Finally, to create a CAP trail, the rails would have to be taken out. Lisa Carloy of the Pullman Civic Trust said it could be done by the state to sell the rails or use them elsewhere.

“There’s value in the steel,” Carloy said.

Ultimately, the goal of the Pullman Civic Trust is to create a draw for local residents and others.

“Once a trail becomes 50 miles it becomes a destination trail,” said Ryder, referring to how a CAP trail would connect to the Chipman, Latah and Bear Creek trails.

She noted to commissioners the amount of cyclists that use the Route of the Hiawatha Scenic Bike Trail, the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes and the Centennial Trail.

“These draw people from around the world. We’re missing out on some of that activity,” Ryder said.

“People will spend their recreation dollars elsewhere if we don’t attract them with this. These kind of transformative opportunities only come around once a generation.”

She talked about what it could take to make this happen in the state legislature, noting two possible avenues for railbanking, a transportation committee bill or through the state budget.

After Ryder’s presentation to the commissioners, some discussion followed.

“It seems the people who have been working so hard on this deserve an answer,” said Commissioner Michael Largent. “And that comes from the legislature.”


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