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TUNNELS ON TRAILS: A Study of 78 Tunnels on 36 Trails in the United States

Research and Writing: Amanda Eaken and Joshua Hart Project -- Management and Editing: Kate Bickert-- Layout and Design: Barbara Richey

Sponsored by Marin County and Produced by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
This document is also available as a PDF file (1.3 mb)

photo: Tunnel on the New River Trail State Park (VA)
Tunnel on the New River Trail State Park (VA)

I. Introduction

For bicycle and pedestrian facilities to be truly functional as routes between work, home, school, libraries, parks and shopping areas, they must be part of an interconnected network. While access to these facilities has improved tremendously in recent years, many gaps remain. Some of the most daunting and important gaps to close are those that involve physical barriers such as freeways, roads, rivers and hills. In these cases, opening tun-nels or using bridges is often the most effective and efficient way to close these gaps and make the trail a truly functional and safe part of the transporta-tion network. Where tunnels or bridges already exist, usually on abandoned railroad rights-of way, they represent a tremendous asset to communities looking to create comfortable and continuous facilities for walking and bicycling.

II. Background on Tunnels and Trails

Tunnels built on railroad corridors required enormous investments of money and labor by the railroad companies that created them. When the nation's active railroad network began its decline in the 1950s and 1960s, many of these tunnels were abandoned, remaining only as idle and forgotten monu- ments to the great railroad age. In the last twenty years, many of these tunnels have found new life as key components of trans- portation corridors for cyclists and pedestri- ans. Sixty-five percent of the tunnels in- cluded in this report were opened for trail use since 1990. These new tunnels represent a significant and growing trend that parallels the rapid growth in rail-trail conversions nationwide.

In hilly areas, tunnels and trestles are at the very heart of a rail-trail, providing the consistency, continuity and flat grade that have made rail-trails famous for their accessibility and broad appeal. The majority of tunnels identified along trails were found clustered in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern States, Northern California and the Pacific North- west where mountainous terrain made them neces-sary for the safe and efficient passage of trains. The original "Milwaukee Road" corridor that connected Chicago to Seattle through the Rocky and Cascade mountain ranges required the construction of some of the longest and most ambitious tunnels built in the early part of the 20th century. The North Bend Railroad, traveling 72 miles through the Appalachians, included 22 tunnels, prompting Mark Twain to dub it the "Appalachian Subway." Unfortunately, many rail-trails often end at the portals of a tunnel, severing the continuity of the trail. Although there may be alternative ways to get around the hills that tunnels go through, these routes are often pro-hibitive to all but the most experi-enced, fit and motivated bicyclists and pedestrians. Maintaining a continuous, flat grade ensures that a trail is accessible to people of all ages and ability levels, especially children, senior citizens and people with disabilities, who are among the most appreciative of these structures.

III. Methodology

Since this study was intended to help answer questions about longer tunnels, similar to those in Marin County, the authors decided to exclude tunnels under 100 feet in length. The authors then developed a five-page survey designed in part to answer questions that were raised at several public meetings in Corte Madera, Mill Valley and Larkspur, Calif. in the summer and fall of 2000. The survey (Appendix E) asked questions about various aspects of tunnel development and maintenance including financial impact, plan-ning and design, structural and engineering issues, impact on local communities, types and frequency of use, and management issues. The survey was mailed to the managers of the 50 trails with 111 tunnels identified in the research. In subsequent discussions with trail managers, it became clear that of these, 33 tunnels on 14 trails did not meet the criteria of the study because the tunnels were closed, were under 100 feet, or were shared with motor vehicle traffic. After identifying the tunnels that met the criteria, 78 tunnels on 36 trails remained.

In addition to the survey, the authors conducted in-depth case studies of tunnels on five trails. These studies were conducted by telephone. Each tunnel situation is unique, so these case studies show important aspects of tunnel planning, design, operation and function that may not otherwise have been revealed through the written survey.

IV. Findings

LOCATION: Trail tunnels were found in 20 states throughout the continental United States, with the South and Southwest having the fewest tunnels of any region. The locations of these tunnels can be at-tributed to a region's geography, rail mileage and local trail advocacy.

Trail tunnels also exist in the context of a variety of land uses. The largest number of tunnels were found in rural areas (48 percent), followed by agricultural areas (15 percent), small towns (9 percent), residential areas (6 percent), and mixed commer-cial/ residential neighborhoods (6 percent). 6

Tunnel Intensive Trails: While most trails surveyed had one or two tunnels, the authors designated three as "tunnel intensive" trails because they had six or more tunnels open to trail users. The Iron Horse State Park Trail in Washington State and the Route of the Hiawatha Trail crossing from Idaho into Montana, have six and eight open tunnels respectively. The North Bend Trail in West Virginia, following the old CSX route from Parkersburg to Grafton through the Appalachian Mountains, goes through 10 of its 22 original tunnels.

Dimensions and Types of Tunnels: Tunnels come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Tunnels included in this study varied in length from 100 feet (the Des Plaines River Tunnel, Ill.) to 2.3 miles (Snoqualmie Tunnel, Iron Horse State Park, Wash.), with an average length of 915 feet for rehabilitated tunnels and 301 feet for newly constructed tunnels. The widest tunnel was the 60-foot wide Paw Paw Tunnel along the C&O Canal Trail in Maryland. The narrowest tunnel was the 10-foot wide Coots Lake Tunnel along the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia. The average tunnel width was 20 feet. Tunnel height ranged from 10 feet (the I-90 tunnel in Washington and the Coot's Lake Tunnel in Georgia) to 42 feet (the National Road Bikeway Tunnel in Ohio), with an average height of 22 feet. See Appendix D for a list of all tunnel dimensions.

Tunnels fall into two main categories: "mined" tunnels and "cut and cover" tunnels. The majority of the rehabilitated tunnels are "mined tunnels," origi-nally bored through large hills or mountains, requiring considerable planning, geologic investigation and cost to construct. Mined tun-nels use a variety of reinforcement methods including wood sets, steel sets or ribs, steel liner plates, pre-cast concrete segments, cast-in-place concrete, pipe canopies or shotcrete.8

Most of the newly constructed tunnels are "cut and cover" tunnels created by excavating a trough from the surface, installing a struc-ture, and backfilling over the tunnel to grade. This type of tunnel is typically used to provide grade separation where a trail crosses a road or highway.

Structural and Engineering Issues

There is an entire profession dedicated to the design, physics, construction and rehabilitation of tunnels. Most tunnel engineering firms work on rail, road or water tunnel projects, but an increas-ing number are being hired to work on non-motor-ized tunnels. The primary structural issues that arise when building or rebuilding tunnels for bicy-clists and pedestrians are similar to those for mo-torized tunnels. These include ensuring proper drainage or waterproofing, preventing rock falls and ensuring overall structural stability.

Most tunnels require some method of support-ing the weight above them. In the 19th century, brick or timber supports were used extensively. Current construction design uses concrete and steel, which are stronger and more durable. The type of structural support used depends on local geology. Most tunnels are bored through rock, but some, like the I-90 Tunnel in Washington state (see case study C), are built in soft soil. Tunnels bored through hard types of rock such as granite fre-quently need no additional support.

Of the trails with "mined" tunnels, the largest number (nine) used concrete linings for support. Seven used brick or stone masonry linings, five used timber supports including the Bizz Johnson Trail's tunnels in Northern California, and three used no supports at all. The remaining tunnels used steel sets, steel liner plates or shotcrete lining. Drainage is an important engineering issue in tunnels. Engineers may seek to avoid buildup of water by installing drainage pipes behind the tun-nel lining or waterproofing of the tunnel lining as a more aggressive solution. When a railroad tunnel is converted for bicycle and pedestrian use, poor drainage can also create puddles that damage the trail surface. Engineers cope with unwanted water on the tunnel surface in several ways. The primary method for channeling water is to raise the trail surface in the middle and have drainage channels along one or both walls. In rural tunnels, trail man-agers often use a higher content of sand and larger sized gravel for the surface to facilitate drainage.

Of greatest concern to engineers seeking to ensure the safety of the public is determining the overall soundness of the tunnel structure. A struc-tural analysis typically starts with a visual inspection of the tunnel to assess geology and the condition of the tunnel's support and lining. In some cases, engineers will conduct a geotechnical investigation to assess ground conditions, which can involve drilling and sampling test holes, performing labora-tory tests and sometimes conducting geophysical surveys to "see" the ground behind the tunnel lining and/or evaluate the structural integrity of the lining.

Falling rocks are of primary concern when planning a non-motorized tunnel. There are sev-eral effective methods to prevent rock falls. The most commonly used method is the application of a wire mesh to the unstable areas, followed by an application of shotcrete, which sets loose rocks in place. Other solutions include the use of rock bolts in conjunction with wire mesh or steel straps to stabilize loose rock between rock bolts.

Tunnels in seismically active areas have special engineering factors to consider. Interestingly, tunnels are not known for their vulnerability in earthquakes. They resist rolling and shaking to a much greater extent than other structures such as bridges and buildings, because they are "flexible" and tend to move with the ground. The presence of an active fault area near a tunnel or the vulner-ability of a tunnel due to extreme shaking during an earthquake can be accommodated by certain types of tunnel support/lining systems.


Many people recognize the tremendous benefits that an open tunnel provides by linking important destinations. Yet for some, tunnels still evoke images of dark places where vagrants linger or illegal activities take place. The results of this study demonstate that contrary to the negative expectations of some residents, tunnels do not impose undue safety or financial burdens on local communities and that, in fact, tunnels on trails are quite safe.

Of the 78 tunnels included in this study, crimes reported in or around the tunnels were extremely rare. The results suggest that with proper attention to design and management, tunnels become tremen- dous community assets that encourage and safely accommodate greater trail use. Equally impressive is the degree to which tun-nels facilitated non-motorized transportation. Managers reported that tunnels make bicycle and pedestrian networks equitable by creating routes that are direct and avoid steep hills making them easy for everyone&emdash;including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities&emdash;to use. They generate community pride and understanding of local his-tory and draw increased trail user traffic with its associated economic benefits. Although it may seem daunting to reopen or build a tunnel, the dozens of open tunnels around the country demonstrate their great potential to link communities and help create sustainable transportation networks.

CASE STUDY A: I-80 Undercrossing, Davis, California

Arriving in Davis, California, for the first time, you will notice signs welcoming you to the city that proudly display the city's logo-- the bicycle. There are no traditional school buses in Davis. Instead, "buses" and "trains" of school children walk or ride their bikes to school using the 46 miles of off-road, multi-use paths and 47 miles of bike lanes that constitute the area's vast bicycle network. The city estimates that a minimum of 20 percent of all com-mute trips are made by bicycle, and that 60-70 percent of all children walk or bike to school. Many consider Davis (population 58,000) to be the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States.

One of the major north-south commuter routes for non-motorized traffic is the 1.75-mile Putah Creek Path. It connects the primarily residen-tial south Davis to the university and other centers of commerce and employment in the northern part of the city. Interstate 80, the major east-west freeway in northern California, runs through the center of Davis, bisecting the northern and southern parts of the city. Bicycle commuters had to detour along Richardson Avenue, a major four-lane north-south automobile arterial, with merging high-speed traffic and sharp on and off-ramps. Despite the fact that there are bike lanes on Richardson Avenue, they are badly broken up, and it is a dangerous crossing even for skilled cyclists. Tim Bustos, bicycle coordinator and planner for the City of Davis, says, "For years people told me, 'I would bike except for the Richardson Avenue freeway overpass.' " Apparently this short treacherous crossing alone was sufficient to deter potential bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

This desire for a better freeway crossing eventually translated into a groundswell of support for a separated bike and pedestrian path underneath the freeway. In planning the tunnel, adjacent communities raised concerns about crime, occupation by vagrants, increased traffic and loss of pri-vacy. Enhanced police patrols, bright lighting, solar powered emergency phones and a special flared design give the tunnel a distinct sense of security (see photo). Anticipating a high volume of commuters and planning especially for night use, the city designed the tunnel to be very bright and open with long clear sight distances, with virtually nowhere for vagrants to loiter.

The construction of the tunnel was an impressive feat. Interstate 80 had to be raised one direction (3 lanes) at a time, and a bridge had to be built beneath each side. The total cost of the project was $4.2 million, which included engineering, planning, design, construction, lighting, fencing, benches, water fountains and landscaping.

The results have been extremely encouraging and community feedback has been very positive, according to Tim Bustos. He notes that bicycle commuting has increased fourfold since the tunnel opened. Further, he notes, "There was, and continues to be much latent demand for bicycling facili-ties. As soon as you make it easy and safe for people, you witness a tremendous increase in use." The tunnel has indeed facilitated an increase in bicycling between north and south Davis. At a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the opening of the tunnel, elected officials and city planners had a hard time stringing the ribbon across the trail because of all of the bicycle traffic going in and out of the tunnel. Before the facility had even been opened to the public, Davis bicyclists were celebrat-ing the safe and convenient commuting option provided by their new tunnel, in the best of ways-- by using it!

CASE STUDY B: Snoqualmie Tunnel, Iron Horse State Park, Washington

The Iron Horse State Park Trail is built on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Corridor that once brought passenger and freight trains from Chicago to Seattle. This former railroad corridor currently features 16 open trail tunnels, the most of any single corridor in the United States. They can be found as part of three trails built on the old rail alignment. There are six tunnels along the section in Washington State referred to as the Iron Horse State Park Trail, including the longest trail tunnel in the country, the 2.3-mile Snoqualmie Tunnel.

Two additional tunnels are found east of the Co-lumbia River on the Milwaukee Road Trail. Farther east in Idaho, the Route of the Hiawatha Trail boasts eight open tunnels, and will soon re-open the 1.6-mile St. Paul Pass Tunnel that crosses the border between Idaho and Montana. Trail advo-cates and park planners have an ambitious vision that one day, utilizing dozens of original railroad tunnels and trestles, the trails will connect to each other to form a single, seamless route from the Pacific Ocean to Montana.

The Snoqualmie Tunnel is truly an impressive structure. Blasted through the basalt rock of Snoqualmie Pass between 1912 and 1915, the fin-ished tunnel provided a direct connection for trains to reach Seattle from the east. The tunnel features large wooden doors on either end that were kept closed in the winter, except when a train came through, to prevent ice formation.

After trains stopped running and the corridor was abandoned in 1980, Washington State pur-chased the line for utility rights and to develop a non-motorized trail. The Snoqualmie Tunnel was sealed shut until 1994, when the agency made the decision to re-open the tunnel to the public. A dedicated team made up of Washington Youth Conservation Corps, a local prison crew, volunteers and state parks staff rehabilitated 4.6 miles of worn drainage structures, called scuppers, that ran along-side each wall. They also resurfaced the tunnel with crushed granite.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the tunnel took place in September 1994. Attending were elected officials, state parks staff, other dignitaries and hundreds of members of the public patiently waiting on mountain bikes for the tunnel doors to open. The elected officials and state parks staff had the opportunity to catch a first glimpse of the re-stored tunnel before the doors were opened to the public. According to Tim Schmidt, park manager, when the group arrived at the end of the tunnel, "the state senators, congressmen and local mayors all had huge grins on their faces."

The Snoqualmie tunnel has been an enormous attraction since its opening. People travel from all over the country, and even around the world, to pedal or hike through the tunnel, which is perpetu-ally pitch black, cold and damp. Trail users are required to use headlights on their bikes or carry flashlights, and warm clothing is recommended. It takes roughly 20 minutes to bike through the tun-nel and 45 minutes to walk it. It's a unique feeling, according to those who have traveled through it, to be one mile inside a mountain. The tunnel has provided public access to areas that were previously inaccessible and has resulted in a huge influx of cash into the local economy. The people who live in the towns surrounding the tunnel are grateful that it's now a part of their community.

CASE STUDY C: I-90 Tunnel, Bellevue, Washington

The Mt. Baker Ridge Bike/ Pedestrian Tunnel, also referred to as the "I-90 Tunnel," is the country's most impressive example of an urban tunnel constructed specifically for non-motorized transportation. The 1,500-foot long tunnel was built in the mid-1980s as the top level of a three-tiered tunnel project con-necting Seattle with the neighboring city of Belle-vue. In addition to the trail, the project included a reversible roadway for carpools and transit on the bottom level and three lanes for general highway traffic in the middle. This is also one of the few tunnels built through a soft earth ridge, a type of geology that is notoriously challenging to tunnel engineers.

The bicycle/pedestrian tunnel is open 24 hours, is fully lighted and features two closed circuit TV cameras that are monitored 24 hours a day as part of the Washington Department of Transportation's traffic management system. To add some character to the tunnel and to discourage graffiti, the state DOT allowed locally sponsored school children to paint murals on the tunnel walls. During the community planning process, people expressed fears that there would be increased crime and litter as a result of the project. According to Phil George, maintenance and operations superintendent at the Washington State Depart-ment of Transportation, "Most had never heard of tunnels for bicycles and pedestrians before, and had negative reactions to the concept."

Several expressed fears that homeless people would sleep in the tunnel and that tunnel users would fall victim to violent crime. In the 12 years since the tunnel opened, for the most part these fears have not materialized. The only incident in the tunnel's history was an attempted purse snatching. The technician who was monitoring the CCTV at the time noticed that something was awry, and rushed down the stairs to the tunnel. His shouts scared the assailant off and the woman with her purse went on her way. Inci-dentally, this is the only attempted violent crime reported in any of the 78 tunnels surveyed.

The Washington State DOT has had far more trouble maintaining its highway tunnels than the bike/pedestrian tunnel. In the motorized tunnel, it has had to deal with a serious graffiti problem, as well as occasional vandalism of the emergency phones and theft of fire extinguishers in the tun-nels. According to Mr. George, the problems they face with the highway tunnels are a result of the easy escape provided by cars. In the middle of the night, hooligans are free to tag the walls with graf-fiti and then hop back in their vehicles to make a quick getaway. It is much harder for a criminal to escape on bike or foot after a crime.

Mr. George has observed that "prior to the tunnel opening, people were dis-suaded from bicycling because of the difficulty of the route. We've seen a significant increase in walk-ing and especially bicycling since the tunnel went in." After witnessing firsthand the success of the I-90 bike and pedestrian tunnel, Mr. George believes that infrastructure improve-ments are the most effective method to get people out of their cars and onto their feet and bikes. He notes, "The Mt. Baker Ridge Bicycle/ Pedestrian Tunnel has been a tre-mendous success and is an asset to the entire community."

CASE STUDY D: The Capital Crescent Trail, Washington, DC

Pick a sunny summer day to visit the Capital Crescent Trail in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., and you may see as many as 560 pedestrians, baby carriages, cyclists, wheelchair users, in-line skaters and joggers pass a given point on the trail every hour.

The 11-mile Capital Crescent Trail, which gets its name from its shape, connects downtown Wash-ington, D.C. with the Maryland suburbs of Bethesda and Silver Spring. This urban and suburban green-way, once an active railroad corridor, is an integral part of a growing network of trails and pathways allowing residents to traverse the D.C. metropolitan area via "muscle-powered means." The CSX railroad carried coal and building materials along this line from 1910 until its abandonment in 1985. At that time the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (CCCT) formed to promote its conversion to a rail-trail.

Heavily used for commuting and recreation, this corridor links residents with parks, trails, cen-ters of employment and com-merce. In addition to its heavy use, this trail is remarkable for its interesting managing arrangement and its two tunnels, the Wisconsin Avenue and the Dalecarlia, which facilitate travel along the corridor. Three management agencies jointly own and govern operations of the trail: the National Park

Service maintains the trail from Georgetown to the D.C.-Maryland line; the Montgomery County Department of Parks has jurisdic-tion from that line to central Bethesda, Md.; and the Montgom-ery County Department of Public Works and Transportation oversees operations from Bethesda to Silver Spring, Md. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also paid for a bridge and fencing to separate trail users from land in their jurisdiction. The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail contributed funds to the development of the Wiscon-sin Avenue tunnel.

In 1997, a cyclist traveling eastbound on the Capital Crescent Trail arriving in downtown Bethesda would have found locked gates at the tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue, requiring a detour through several busy streets to rejoin the trail. Opening this tunnel had been a long-standing objective of the CCCT, who recognized the impor-tance of this safe and convenient connection be-tween trail segments. Ellen Jones, executive direc-tor of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, anticipating the positive effects of an open tunnel, remarked, "With the separation of trail users from motorized vehicle traffic, the comfort level will go up for everybody."

Opening the Wisconsin Avenue tunnel was controversial for a few reasons. Running the length of two full city blocks, this 800-foot tunnel passes under a 6-lane road and two buildings. After the railroad became inactive, vagrants occasionally occupied the tunnel, forcing Montgomery County to erect gates at both ends. As a result, the re-opening process involved a number of measures designed to make the tunnel a safe and attractive facility.

Due to the tunnel's width (35 feet), users feared that the space on either side of the 14-foot trail would provide a haven for home-less people or criminals. In re-sponse, the County provided light-ing, installed high grade fencing to section off the extra width of the tunnel, and enforced hours of operation: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (ex-cept for commuting cyclists) via a security firm. In a display of the group's dedication, the CCCT put 2/3 of its budget 30 into funding the installation of "globe" lights that would illuminate the wide tunnel more fully than the lights originally chosen by the county. Further, they funded the costs of running the trail along the outside of the curve in the tunnel, in order to provide longer sight lines. As a result, it became possible to see nearly the full length of this 800- foot curved tunnel, largely relieving concerns about personal safety.

CASE STUDY E: National Road Bikeway, St. Clairsville, Ohio

You're asking for trouble," said some local residents when Dennis Bigler, the director of public services for the City of St. Clairsville, Ohio proposed building a trail on the abandoned Wheeling and Lake Erie right-of-way that runs through the 500-foot National Road Tunnel. Residents were worried that the trail, and especially the tunnel, would become a magnet for criminal behavior, attracting loitering teenagers, muggers, rapists and even murderers. Homeowners living close to either end of the tunnel also were concerned about less drastic consequences, such as loss of privacy and increased noise." Opening this tunnel is nuts," said one vehement trail opponent at a public meeting."

Trail advocates worked with local landowners and presented ideas to help address their concerns. For example, providing 24-hour lighting was pro- posed as a way to help address worries about crimi- nal activity and general safety. Eventually, the town decided to move forward with the project and secured a $1.2 million Transportation Enhancements grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation for planning and development.

The community had a broad vision to create a linear park that would be the centerpiece of the community, a place where neighbors could meet and chat and people could bike or skate in safety. The tunnel was the focal point of the trail and the bulk of the design and engineering went to ensur- National Road Bikeway after reconstruction. Credit: City of St. Clairsville, Ohio. National Road Bikeway prior to trail development. Credit: City of St. Clairs-ville, Ohio. ing its structural integrity and improving its aes-thetic quality. The re-design of the tunnel included an elaborate staircase and two overlooks above the portals of the tunnel, largely funded by the St. Clairsville Rotary Club.

The trail opened in June 1998 and soon be-came the pride of the entire town. Former trail opponents became some of the trail's biggest sup-porters. Criminal activity did not materialize: Since opening, there has not been a single reported incident of serious problem behavior on the trail or in the tunnel. There have only been minor isolated occurrences of vandalism, such as signs being sto-len and a bench broken.

Women report that they feel safe using the tunnel even at night, because of the well-lit environment and, because others are often using the trail. The town ran conduits for video security cameras when they in-stalled the lighting in the tunnel, but it quickly became obvious that cameras weren't necessary.

The people who walk, bike or jog on the trail are respectful and quiet, say neighbors. Their presence helps deter less wholesome activities, such as teen-age drinking, which has dried up since the tunnel opened. The National Road Bikeway is home to the only rail-trail tunnel in Ohio and tourists from all over the region flock to St. Clairsville just to see it. St. Clairsville's logo for the bikeway depicts a cyclist pedaling through the arch of the tunnel.

To direct bicyclists and others to the bikeway, the town has stenciled the logo onto some of its streets, with an arrow indicating the direction of the bikeway. Residential areas are located directly adjacent to the tunnel's portals and the downtown commer-cial district is several blocks away. A nature trail through a forested area provides a quiet "alterna-tive route" for trail users. People living in the neigh-borhoods near the tunnel had always thought of the abandoned structure as a liability. Since the town renovated the tunnel, it has become an essen-tial part of the neighborhood, with people of all ages strolling and pedaling through it. The lonely, abandoned feeling has disappeared completely and the town itself is experiencing a renaissance in large part due to the trail and its tunnel.

The only problems associated with the tunnel, according to Dennis Bigler, have been related to water drainage. In the winter, icicles form and can pose a threat to the people below. In addition, ice patches up to one foot thick form on the surface of the bikeway, creating a hazard. The town avoids the use of salt whenever possible because of its impact on the surrounding vegetation. To mitigate this problem, they have been spreading sand on the trail, and have made liberal use of warning signs and tape.

The man who thought that opening the tunnel was "nuts" is now a big fan of the entire bikeway. He regularly calls city hall to report on the condition of the trail, including which flowers need more water in the landscaped areas. Strangely enough, the bikeway's greatest fans haven't been the young kids on in-line skates, the teenagers on bicycles, or the young parents pushing their babies along the trail in strollers. The most fervent praise has come from the town's senior citizens. Dennis Bigler describes an incident that occurred the day after the tunnel opening: "An 86- year-old woman who had lived in St. Clairsville her whole life climbed the steps of City Hall and handed me a twenty dollar bill as a contribution toward the trail. 'Thank you,' she said, her hands trembling and tears welling in her eyes. 'Thank you for building this bikeway. It is the best thing that has ever happened to our town.'"

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APRIL 2001

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