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Rail recycling is a boon for the city’s newest trail

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A “fortuitous meeting” of city and nonprofit has brought a new 2.5-mile trail to Brisbane with estimated savings to taxpayers of nearly $3 million.

By contracting with the Reno, Nev.-based Iron Horse Preservation Society, Inc., a nonprofit organization that removed two miles of old railroad track and reused half of it, Brisbane cut costs on the trail project, which was once estimated to cost $3 million, to less than $2,000 for Brisbane residents.

The central location of the trail in the nearly 4,000-person city will provide greater access to all and an added benefit to employees in the area looking to exercise during the workday, a city official said.

“It was a real fortuitous meeting of interest,” said City Manager Clay Holstine.

With Iron Horse salvaging the track from the old rail line, costs to the taxpayers were cut way down as track removal was going to cost the city at least $300,000, said Jim Hattrup, the project manager for Iron Horse.

The reused track will help construct a 20-mile line between Carson City and Virginia City as a restoration project to replicate a shortline built in the mother-load silver mining period of the early 20th Century.

“We’re in the sweet spot with what their plans were and the materials we could provide,” Hattrup said.

Beginning across Park Lane from City Hall, the Crocker Park Recreational Trail winds its way along the old Southern Pacific rail line. That line became overgrown and impassable in some places after the city acquired the land from Caltrain in the mid 1990s, said Jim Skeels, Brisbane Parks and Recreation director.

The master plan for the trail called for paving but the trail will be made of crushed granite, called “ballast,” so users can walk and ride a bike over it but probably not rollerblade, Skeels said. The ballast was spread across the 10-foot width of the trail and then compacted.

“We’ll see how the public responds to it. If they’re comfortable with it, then we’ll leave it. If they want asphalt, then (the granite) will work as a foundation” for paving, Skeels said.

As recently as a year ago the trail was impassable in parts and walkers or joggers would have found “trash-laden, uneven ground with railroad tracks in it,” the parks director said.

When the trail officially opens Dec. 9 — there are still some amenities to install — there will be benches, trash cans, signage, mutt-mitt dispensers and five new crosswalks as the trail circles the industrial area.

dsmith@examiner.com

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