Keeping track

By November 10, 2010

One has to give the members of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors praise for their patience in listening to five hours of testimony about the future of the El Dorado Trail and and the remaining railroad track between Missouri Flat and Folsom.

In fact we think they should all be given the Iron Butt Award with Gold Leaf Cluster.

No wonder they deferred a vote on the issue Monday.

It’s a given that there is a lot of support for extending the hiking and biking trail west from Missouri Flat. We’re not so sure a horse path needs to continue westward.

From our viewpoint, though, the real take-away from the five hour talkathon at the Board Chambers was the fact that ripping up the tracks would mean the right of way could revert to the landowners along the railroad right of  way.

There were indications that the supervisors would not support removing the rails. The scheme being promoted by some trail backers is to sell the rails to pay for the trail. We regard the financial viability of that swap with deep suspicion. Fortunately the board doesn’t seem inclined it consider it at all. Lose the rails, lose the trail.

While doubting the viability of excursion trains, Supervisor John Knight summarized it succinctly when he said, “… but ripping up the rails is not in the plan.”

So far the sure thing happening with the rails is the museum’s plan to establish a railroad museum in the town of El Dorado and use three miles of tracks to run a train back and forth.

The other action is from occasional groups of two-seater speeder owners who ride the rails from Latrobe to Missouri Flat and clear out brush and deadfall. It’s free maintenance. Mountain bikers already ride down the ties between the rails.

There is plenty of room for all. The right of way varies from 60 feet to 200 feet. Since it is clear the board doesn’t appear to favor ripping up the tracks and further that that could jeopardize the right of way, we don’t see any reason to vary from the 2003 plan for the railroad line. When money comes from the state for trail development the pedestrian path will be extended alongside the tracks.

But it is not as simple as paving a path. Adequate paved parking must be created, along with an access road, signage that includes plenty of warnings about the county’s leash law. Provision should be made for a sheriff’s bicycle or motorcycle patrol and animal services patrol. Portable potties and trash cans will have to be located along the way.

Bicycle and pedestrian use is already planned for the railroad right of way. What’s to resolve except stick to the plan?

Mountain Democrat

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