Obstacles to opening Utah's first rails-to-trails project have been overcome, and supporters hope to open a portion of the 28-mile project this summer.
The old Union Pacific rail bed from Park City to Coalville is being converted into a gravel-based trail for mountain bikers, cross-country skiers, joggers, hikers and horseback riders."We're hoping to see the first part of the trail open sometime in June," said Jennifer Harrington, Park City's senior landscape architect. "We have a commitment from Summit County to blade and roll the entire trail. The next step is to get the bridges improved."
There are 15 trestles on the trail. Gaps must be covered with plywood and protective rails must be constructed on the sides.
John Knudson, a planner with the Division of Parks and Recreation, which will be in charge of opening and managing the new trail system, said much of the early funding for the project is expected to come from donations of money, labor and materials from project supporters.
Knudsen said the Natural Resources Foundation, a private group, is accepting donations. He also hopes some corporations in Summit County might adopt a bridge, pay for the railing and decking, and then be honored with a plaque placed on the structure.
Harrington said a citizens committee supporting the rails-to-trails project has raised about $3,000 and has commitments for more.
The Division of Parks and Recreation and Park City will be working with the National Park Service's River and Trails Assistance Program to put together a long-term master plan for the project.
One of the project's major hurdles was cleared with completion of a study on health hazards. Officials are still concerned with elevated lead and arsenic levels in the first three miles of the trail from Park City's Prospector Square area to U.S. Highway 40. That stretch will be the last to be developed.