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Northeast Texas Trail Coalition to connect local trails for 132-mile trek

As the Trail de Paris extends west, Northeast Texas Trail Coalition further completes the organization’s “master plan”, a continuous 132-mile long recreational trail converted from unused railway corridors to enhance economic development in Northeast Texas.

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Land for constructing the trail through Northeast Texas is provided at no cost through a federal law passed in 1983 called the National Trails System Act.

Through the act, railroad rights of way are preserved for future reactivation of rail service and are able to be donated or sold to public and private “rail bank entities”.

The Union Pacific Railroad, the Kiamichi Railroad, and the Rails to Trails Conservancy have deeded 132 miles of unused railway lines to 13 different trail entities throughout Northeast Texas for specific use as a non-motorized trail.

The Northeast Texas Trail, once completed, will travel through 19 rural communities, linking residents and visitors to retail shops, camp sites, restaurants, and different local attractions along the trail. The Trail de Paris “master plan” will also include safe routes to schools, which is being paid for by the Safe Route to Schools grant.

“Recreational trail projects provide a local and visitor-oriented recreational and quality-of-life amenity that enhances regional economic development, broadens the tax base, increases employment, attracts new businesses, supports the retention and expansion of businesses already in the area, and promote public/private partnerships,” according to Steve Gilbert, executive director of Paris Economic Development Corporation.

Trail de Paris master plan (Click to Enlarge)
(Click to Enlarge)

To date, more than 18 thousand miles of rail to trail has been successfully created across the country. The Mineral Wells-Weatherford trail in Texas attracts 300 thousand people each year, and generates $2 million annually. Ohio’s Little Miami Scene Trail visitors spend $13.54 per visit, excluding lodging according to reports.

On May 24, 2012, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission granted $100,000 to the City of Blossom / Rail Trail project to build a 1.5-mile, 12-foot wide, all-weather asphalt recreational trail from their west to east city limits.

The TPWC also granted the City of Clarksville / Gate to Texas Trail project with $128,000.00 to construct a 2-mile crushed aggregate recreational trail from their west to east city limits via the TPW Recreational Trail Fund.

Once completed, the trails will add another 1.5 miles to the trails system in Paris, Reno, and Lamar County for a total linear length of 12 miles, and will add 3.5 miles in length to the Northeast Texas Trail system.

The Northeast Texas Trail Coalition will be holding its quarterly meeting next week at the Farmersville Civic Center on 201 Orange Street in Farmersville, Texas at 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend according to Northeast Texas Trails advocate Earl Erickson.

Updates will be given on the construction progress of the Chaparral Trail, which links Farmersville to Paris, along with updates on the Trail de Paris and the Partnership for the Pathway trail system which will link New Boston to Paris.

For more information about the Trail de Paris and the Northeast Texas Trail, visit the trail’s website at http://www.traildeparis.org/.

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