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Utilities + Rails to Trails a great Partnership!

image credit: Photo by Audra C Drazga
Audra Drazga's picture
Vice President of The Power Industry Network Energy Central

I am the VP of the Energy Central Power Industry Network.  In this role, I help to connect professionals in the power industry through the development and management of topic-specific community...

  • Member since 2012
  • 913 items added with 560,566 views
  • Aug 22, 2022
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Some of you know that I am an avid road biker. I was forced to switch from running to biking in the early 2000s due to knee and back issues. Ever since, I have been riding, and I even recruited my dad to join me on my riding adventures. Together, we've logged 1,000s of miles of riding and have participated in numerous organized rides, including the Elephant Rock - Douglas County, Colorado, MS150 - Colorado, and The Copper Triangle - Copper Mountain, Colorado.  

With the population growth and increased traffic in Colorado, road biking has become difficult, making riding on roads dangerous and, I must admit, a tad scary. I used to be able to fly down a road not too far from my house. Now today, I will not even venture on this road. There have been countless stories of car and bike accidents, and let's face it, it does not go well for the biker. So, I have started doing more trail riding, and thank goodness Colorado has numerous bike paths to choose from. But not every state is as blessed as Colorado. 

This gets me to the topic at hand - Utilities +Rails to Trails - a great partnership! 

I am a member of a Conservatory - Rails to Trails, whose mission is

"At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we are building a nation connected by trails. We reimagine public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors." 

The group is working to support the development of trails across the nation with the ultimate goal of connecting trails from DC to the Pacific Northwest. Just recently, I read a couple of articles about their partnerships with Utility companies to help accomplish their goals - A perfect combination in my mind! 

Working alongside utility companies across the country, trail entities have often used utility corridors to help build safe and accessible trails for local communities. Some of these most visible trails span miles under large power lines, but utility corridors refer to any passages built below or above ground that carry utility lines, such as electricity, water or natural gas. The benefits of these types of partnerships can include a reduction in the costs associated with trail development and the maximization of the available land to meet transportation and connectivity needs. They also provide ways for utility companies to reach out and connect with the local communities they serve. 

Since Colorado is my home state, here is what is happening here: In Colorado - HB22 - 1104 Bill was passed to encourage, streamline, and accelerate the development of recreation multi-walking, hiking, and bicycle paths along powerline paths. A few examples already in place are the Fort Collins Power Trail, Douglas Count's New East/West Regional Trail (opened in 2021), Lakewood Dry Gulch Trails from Denver to Lakewood, and Loveland's North Trail.

To see articles about other programs, follow these links: 

I would love to hear related stories from your states. And as always, your thoughts and opinions are welcome. Do you think these programs are beneficial? Do they help power companies? Are there any negatives? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

Audra C Drazga

PS - this is not intended to promote Rails to Trails in any way. I am just sharing stories that I read recently! 

 

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