Shenandoah Rail Trail Exploratory Partnership
The Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership is an unincorporated coalition of public, private and non-profit organizations along the proposed Shenandoah Valley Rail Trail that have come together with the vision of transforming an unused single-track railroad corridor from Broadway to Front Royal into a multi-use almost 50-mile trail re-connecting communities, businesses, schools and many local cultural and historic resources.
To contact the partnership email email@example.com.
This trail would be first and foremost for you – the local. Imagine a short, scenic stroll from your backyard to your nearest town for coffee and a local pastry. Or a long, primarily car-free, cycle three towns over for a well-earned lunch. Or if you work close (or even far!), a pedestrian friendly commute.
You and your community will have access to an amenity that has proven time and again a valuable health benefit. Folks polled on their use of the GreenBelt in Georgia reported the trail “makes it easier for them to find time to exercise, allows them to get more exercise than before it was available, increases their enjoyment of doing moderate or vigorous physical activity and leaves them feeling like they are in a better state of health and/or physical ability than they were before they started using the trail.” (source)
In most cases there is a property value increase associated with proximity to a trail, especially a trail viewed as an iconic destination and even more so when the trail design takes landowner privacy into consideration (which is the intent of our partnership!). For example, home buyers ranked proximity to a trail second in importance out of 18 possible neighborhood amenities when shopping for a house. (source)
We’ve commissioned an economic impact study to predict how localities along the corridor might benefit from a mixed-use trail. In the meantime, we’re confident towns and counties will experience a healthy revenue boost based on examples across the country. In Virginia, the High Bridge Trail through Farmville was predicted to have an initial economic impact between $1-2 million when it opened in 2012. In the most recent 2018 study, it was reported to have an impact of $6.5 million. (source/source)
Related to above, existing tourism related businesses should experience a boost and doors will open for new rural, small-town compatible businesses. For example, the Mispillion River Greenway in Milford, Delaware, is credited with inspiring downtown reinvestment and a net gain in new businesses, with more than 250 people now working in a downtown that was nearly vacant 10 years ago. (source)
Rail corridors are an important part of our near and distant past, with the origins story of this corridor through the Valley dating all the way back to pre-Civil War 1850. As it stands, the right-of-way, in an unused state, is the very worst use of the land and doesn’t honor its past importance in the bordering communities’ vitality. Imagine the corridor rebirthed as a connection between important historic and iconic natural resources and an opportunity to keep its history alive for generations to come.
What was then called Manassas Gap Railroad began construction in 1851 in Manassas. It entered the Shenandoah Valley through Manassas Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains and reached the town Mount Jackson in 1859. During the Civil War, construction was halted, and much of the rail was destroyed. After the war, construction began anew and the line reached Harrisonburg in 1868 where it is still used by Norfolk Southern south of Broadway. Due to decreased interest in freight service along the corridor, the track between Broadway and Front Royal is no longer in use. Freight service on the corridor has been discontinued in sections beginning in 1989.
The Shenandoah Rail Trail Exploratory Partnership Governance Council has representation from all the towns and counties along the route, in addition to the two regional Planning District Commissions and four regional nonprofits. It’s a large group, but this makeup ensures each community is represented and that considerations for each locality will be taken into account as the vision for the trail unfolds. You can read the Partnership’s bylaws here.
Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission
Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission
Board of Supervisors,
Board of Supervisors,
Town of Broadway
Town of Edinburg
Town of Front Royal
Town of Mount Jackson
Town of New Market
Brandy Hawkins Boies
Town of Strasburg
Town of Timberville
Town of Toms Brook
Town of Woodstock
Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley
Board Vice President,
Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River
Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation
Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition
Neighboring Rail Trail Landowners and the “Taking” Claim
It is commonplace for specialized law firms to try to organize landowners when it becomes public that a rail owner is considering abandoning a rail corridor.
Support Investment in a Shenandoah Rail Trail
Tell your legislators you support the state investment in multi-use trails, like the Shenandoah Rail Trail.
Local Officials Ask Valley Legislators to Safeguard Rail Trail Budget
Shenandoah Rail Trail Exploratory Partnership members signed and delivered a letter asking for help to secure funds for a multi-use from Broadway to Front Royal.
A Shenandoah Rail Trail IS feasible!
A study conducted by state agencies found that a Shenandoah Rail Trail IS feasible and also that there is overwhelming support for the concept.
Proposed State Funding for the Shenandoah Rail Trail
Today Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced funding for multi-use trails that will make the vision of a Shenandoah Rail Trail connecting the towns from Broadway to Front Royal a step closer to reality.