It seemed like a good transportation move when Columbus voters approved a sales tax for capital improvements that included a railroad trolley from downtown Columbus to Columbus State University. Rail is the most energy efficient way to transport masses of people. However, instead of following through with the trolley idea, city leaders decided to dig up the old railroad tracks the trolley would have used. They decided that not enough folks would ride the trolley to make it financially feasible. Maybe they were right. Maybe.
However, replacing those tracks with asphalt for a Rails to Trails project could be considered energy efficient, too. Folks riding bikes and walking the trail will not be burning fossil fuel, and will be improving their health.
Columbus City Planner Rick Jones tells me that the first phase of the Rails to Trails program, an asphalt trail from downtown Columbus to Columbus State, is about a third of the way through. When you look at the asphalt that has been laid from 14th Street in downtown Columbus almost to Hardaway High School, you would think it’s more than a third finished. However, other things have to be done.
One of them is a rest station which is under construction near Hannan Elementary School. It will feature a concession stand, rest rooms and a parking lot. One of the construction workers told me that, at the rate construction of the rest area is going, the building should be finished in about a month.
The second phase, from Columbus State to Cooper Creek, Jones tells me, will get started in about a month. He says the Rails to Trails project should be completed in about a year.