More on the Royal Oak Rail-with-Trail proposal

C and G Newspapers ran a recent article on the rail-with-trail proposal in Royal Oak:

City officials have begun to look into the possibility of a recreational trail along the railroad lines that run through the city and into the downtown. The administration was tasked at looking at the issue after Commissioner Jim Rasor brought it forward at the Jan. 25 meeting. Any potential trail would run alongside the existing railway, where there is a large amount of open area.

“This would really enhance recreation possibilities for Royal Oak and the region,” Rasor said.

Rasor said he would like to see the trail constructed from the downtown area to the northern Royal Oak boarder, which is a length of approximately four miles.

A long-range goal, Rasor said, would be to eventually link up to the Clinton River Trail in Pontiac, which runs from Pontiac to Rochester Hills and eventually dumps into the Macomb Orchard Trail, which goes 26 miles to Richmond.

Since this article was published, I’ve met with city of Royal Oak staff to discuss next steps — which is basically information gathering. I’ve also kept the Active Transportation Alliance, the organization that will create Royal Oak’s non-motorized plan, in the loop.

There was a question about whether a feasibility study was the next step. In speaking with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy they asked. “Is it being used now?” The answer is sure. They said that if people are already using the pathway next to the rail lines then it’s feasible.

Below is a link from a 1932 article discussing the history of this rail right-of-way. “All cuts and fills were constructed for four tracks, but at present only two tracks have been laid.” Two of the lines were intended for suburban train service while the other pair for freight. As noted earlier, the third and fourth line were never added, which leaves room for a non-motorized trail.

Link: Grand Trunk Relocation on Detroit-Pontiac Line, Engineering News-Record, October 21, 1932

Interestingly enough, the original plan was to build an “elevated motor speedway” above the rail lines. It was to be a toll road allowing motorists to travel between Pontiac and Detroit in under 30 minutes.

This was the vision of Joseph A. Bower and he had a good reason to build a highway to downtown.

He’d just built and opened the Ambassador Bridge.

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2 Responses to “More on the Royal Oak Rail-with-Trail proposal”

  1. Larry S Says:

    I think this would be a great trail however, Grand Trunk originally relocated this line “kicking and screaming” back in the 1920s. I get the feeling they would not be very warm to this at all. I don’t think it’s because they are obstructionist. I think it is because the proposal has nothing to do with their business and there is nothing in it for them.

    Great find on the 1932 article too.

  2. Jennifer Hill Says:

    I live in Oakland County now and am on the MTGA Board, but used to live in Somerville, Massachsuetts. We have a great multi-use path there and have been working with the transit agency and the commercial railroad to get rail with trail. The website is a little old, but the contact info is still good.

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