Rail-Trail Rail-Trail by ghkgkyyt


									Mineral Wells
to Weatherford
M i n e ral We l l s, Texas

In the early 1890s, the Weatherford, Mineral
Wells and Northwestern Railroad completed
                                                   redecking of 15 railroad bridges and construc-
a 22-mile spur from Weatherford to Mineral
                                                   tion of three of four trailheads—each includ-
Wells. In its hey day, Mineral Wells was
                                                   ing parking lots and restrooms.
renown for its “Crazy Water” baths and had                                                               evolved. In 1995, TxDOT accepted the 1992
numerous bath houses and luxury hotels. The        H E A LT H, TRA N S P ORTAT I ON AND ECON O MI C
                                                                                                         appraisal for corridor acquisition, but TPWD
trains carried health-conscious tourists in to     B E N E FI TS
                                                                                                         found that it needed to lower the right-of-way
Mineral Wells and its highly touted mineral            The trail’s gentle grade lets people of all       costs to ensure that sufficient funds would be
water out to Ft. Worth, Dallas and beyond.         age groups and abilities enjoy the landscape          available for other project components. As
                                                   and get heart-healthy exercise while biking,          part of the railbanking process, TPWD nego-
                                                   walking or skating. Two miles of asphalt sur-         tiated a bargain sale, whereby Union Pacific
   When Union Pacific announced its intent
                                                   face in Mineral Wells allows easy access for          was paid for part of the corridor—and donat-
to abandon the line in 1988, the city of Mineral
                                                   the disabled or elderly using wheelchairs or          ed the remaining land. This donation was
Wells attempted to maintain freight service
                                                   walkers. Equestrians use the trail on the more        credited toward the local match.
with a short line. By 1992, the short line sub-
                                                   rural 18 miles of packed, crushed stone.                 When complications delayed completion of
sidy could no longer be afforded and the city
                                                       The transportation benefits of this small         the Weatherford trailhead and the contribution
turned to trail conversion as a more cost effec-
                                                   town trail are significant: In Mineral Wells, a       of Weatherford’s portion of matching funds, the
tive economic development alternative. The
                                                   city of 15,000, the trail provides off-street bicy-   creative financing came in handy. Because the
trails program at Texas Parks and Wildlife
                                                   cling and walking access from residential             Union Pacific donation covered much of the
Department (TPWD) offered assistance. The
                                                   neighborhoods to downtown and retail shop-            local match requirement, the Weatherford trail-
city appointed a citizen advisory committee to
                                                   ping. The trail also provides traffic-free access     head was dropped from the project scope and
develop a proposal for rail-trail conversion.
                                                   for many students of Travis Elementary                the city was freed from its obligation to provide
Public meetings were held to present the advi-
                                                   School. Residents along the corridor outside          a local match. Overall trail development went
sory committee’s suggestions and hear public
                                                   of either city use the trail to visit friends, shop   forward and Weatherford was able to con-
concerns. Residents from both Mineral Wells
                                                   or run errands in town. A local school has            tribute by building its trailhead with all local
and Weatherford showed strong support for
                                                   added bike racks for students commuting by            funds at a later date.
conversion. An accessible, multi-use trail
                                                   trail and may add a horse stable.
would connect the cities with each other and                                                             SU M M A RY
                                                       Located 50 miles west of the Dallas-Fort
Lake Mineral Wells State Park.                                                                              A rising star in the Lone Star State, strong
                                                   Worth metroplex, the economic benefit of this
   With TPWD as the lead sponsor and the                                                                 public support and flexible financial partner-
                                                   trail could be significant. The number of
two cities willing to share the 20 percent                                                               ships helped make the Mineral Wells Rail-Trail
                                                   annual visitors to the state park has been
match with TPWD, $1.6 million in                                                                         a reality. The two towns mutually benefit from
                                                   approximately 300,000, generating local rev-
Transportation Enhancements (TE) awards                                                                  the increased economic, recreational and trans-
                                                   enues of $2 million. The trail is projected to
were provided in 1994 by the Texas Depart-                                                               portation activities the trail makes possible.
                                                   attract an additional 100,000 people annually,
ment of Transportation (TxDOT). In 1995, a
                                                                                                         CON TAC TS
                                                   which could generate $500,000 to $750,000 in
portion of the TE awards were used to                                                                    Steve Jones, Park Superintendent
acquire the railroad right-of-way and preserve                                                           Mineral Wells State Trailway 940-328-1171
it for future public use. The remaining funds      I N N OVATIVE FIN ANCING SAVES PROJ E C T             Andy Goldbloom, TPWD Trail Planner
                                                       Effective partnerships allowed for critical       Andy.goldbloom@tpwd.state.tx.us
were used for trail development, including
                                                   changes to the financial plan as the project

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