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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
The city of Dayton would like to transform an unused, elevated rail line into a bike trail and public park similar to ones in larger cities.
Norfolk Southern rail company has filed to abandon a more than six-mile stretch of rail from Wayne Avenue downtown near the former site of Garden Station and running southeast to the Tenneco property in Kettering, city officials said.
The project could be transformational and would connect downtown and the Oregon Historic District to the Historic Inner East neighborhoods and link into the regional trail system, city staff and leaders said.
"This is something the neighborhoods have been talking about for a very long time," said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. "This is a big deal."
However, this is just a vision for the rail line, and bringing it to life would take a lot of work, time and money, said Jon White, city of Dayton planner.
"This is a long ways away from happening," he said. "But it's something we're pursuing for sure."
The city has formally begun the process to negotiate with Norfolk Southern to try to acquire or lease the rail line with the goal of creating a new park and bike trail, said Aaron Sorrell, Dayton's director of planning and community development.
The rail runs along an elevated track from east of Wayne Avenue to west of Keowee Street.
The city would like to create a park and trail that overlooks parts of the urban center, like the High Line in New York City or the 606 in Chicago.
"It would be a cool, elevated park that would have great views of downtown and would be a direct link from our eastern neighborhoods to the Oregon District," Sorrell said.
The line winds east and shoots south until it finally hits a dead-end at the Tenneco property, west of Woodman Drive. A bike trail could end before the rail line turns the corner and heads south, city officials said.
The line would intersect with the Creekside Trail that continues to run parallel to U.S. 35 and heads out to Yellow Springs.
The city and Norfolk Southern currently disagree what the rail line property is worth, but officials said they hope a fair price can be negotiated.
A city-funded appraisal says the line is worth about $730,000.
Norfolk Southern has not used the line for probably more than a decade, Sorrell said. Several bike trails across the region were once rail lines.
Transforming the rail would likely cost millions of dollars, though there are grants available for rails to trails projects, Sorrell said.
This effort is in the very early stages and is a long, long way from happening, said White, the city planner.
The hardest part of the process will be acquiring the property, White said, but other challenges include financing.
Contact this reporter at 937-225-0749 or email Cornelius. Frolik@coxinc.com
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