Preparation for Trail Construction
As the final railroad ties are banded up and shipped away the trail construction begins. Waves in the ballast of the railbed are generated with tie removal, so the first step in prepping the roadbed is “back dragging” with a machine that has a bucket attached. This technique of dragging a bucket along the gravel removes about 80% of the imperfections from the roadbed.
At the same time the roadbed is being prepped for the construction process. A backhoe is brought in to clean out clogged culverts, and assess if any additional drainage is necessary for the future trail to stay intact.
Once the roadbed is smoothed out the foreman analyzes whether or not there is enough gravel to support a trail. Additional gravel is then brought in if there isn’t enough ballast. Attention is then paid to the drainage system to ensure that the trail will not be washed out by seasonal precipitation.
A typical out-of-service railroad track is pictured at the right, with a rail trail in its' future.
During the first phase of construction, a water buffalo is used to soak the roadbed while a roller compaction machine is run over the top. The water and compaction machine ensure that there will be very little movement in the base of the new trail.
The second phase deals with any construction and signage that has to be installed. Small bridges are built from railroad ties. Benches, signs, garbage cans and pet waste mitts are then installed.
A final inspection is then carried out to ensure proper installation of all trail amenities. This inspection also includes a visual inspection of the trail itself which insures a clean finished project is delivered.
Iron Horse preservation installed the bench on the left hand side of the picture. Typical features of our trails.
Notice that ties are used to keep debris from entering the trail, an occasional feature utilized on some trails.