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Old rails could turn into trails

Miles of abandoned railroad could someday provide a path from McMinnville to Gaston


There may be yet another option in the area for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Yamhelas Westsider Trail Committee is currently trying to raise enough money to purchase 17 miles of abandoned Pacific Union land, which they plan to convert into a trail for hikers, bikers, runners and equestrians.

The trail would stretch from McMinnville to the Hagg Lake turnoff just north of Gaston on Highway 47--and might eventually connect to Forest Grove. But first a crucial grant application for the project needs supportive public comments by Jan. 31.

The trail committee formed in May 2012 and now has about 30 members, but its goals had their start in the 1990s after a car struck and killed a child riding a bike from Carlton to Yamhill, according to committee secretary and Carlton Mayor Kathie Oriet.

The trail would provide a safe alternative for bikers and walkers. No motorized vehicles would be allowed.

There is still a long way to go before the group can secure the land, however, and timing is of the essence. The committee hopes to make the purchase before Pacific Union sells off all the land in chunks, which would make it difficult to reconstruct the stretch.

The trail land, about 60 feet wide, will cost approximately $2.5 million, a significant decrease from the once-estimated $9 million price tag.

Committee members are currently looking for donations and have applied for an Oregon Department of Transportation grant for a little less than $1 million, of which Yamhill County will match 10 percent, said Oriet. They won’t find out whether they have secured the grant until late 2013 or early 2014, but found out last week they made it through the first cut.

The railroad tracks have already been removed, but the committee would still need to pave the trail and add two small bridges with the help of volunteers and donations. “When the time comes, I think people are going to be there,” Oriet said.

So far, talk of the new trail has generated support from the community and various biking groups in the area.

“Ultimately, we would like it to someday hook up with trails from Forest Grove and Tillamook that are coming in,” Oriet said, as well as the Banks-Vernonia Trail.

To comment on the grant proposal, visit surveymonkey.com/s/TE_OBPAC2012.




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