Summit County’s Union Pacific Rail Trail Corridor Plan wins national award

What was once simply an abandoned rail line has become a community asset

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — Summit County announced today that its Union Pacific Rail Trail Corridor Plan has been awarded the Vernon Deines Award from the American Planning Association (APA).

The Vernon Deines award is a part of the APA’s Small Town and Rural Planning Division Planning Awards, and is given annually to an outstanding comprehensive plan or special project plan that addresses the development of a neighborhood, community, county or region.

The Rail Trail Corridor stretches 24-miles throughout Summit County, and is an arts, culture, recreation and tourism corridor that county planners have designed to create a strong sense of community, and enable revitalization and resource protection within the area.

The trail was formed from a rail line that was abandoned by Union Pacific in 1989.

“In the early 1990s, a local grassroots effort transformed the abandoned Union Pacific Rail tracks into a priceless community anchor known as the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail,“ said Maddy McDonough, Summit County planner. “Without the tireless work of the community members before us, this plan for the future of the Rail Trail would not have been possible. The Summit County Community Development Department is honored that the Small Town and Rural Planning Division of APA has chosen to recognize our community’s effort to proactively plan for the future of this vital community resource.”

The project team conducted four in-person open houses, eight online focus group discussions, three online surveys, and received 25 community member photo submissions of the corridor before the Rail Trail Corridor Plan was approved by the Summit County Council on May 24.

“Summit County is immensely proud of the unique process, unprecedented community input, and governmental cooperation that went into the creation of this plan,” said Shayne Scott, Summit County manager. “We believe this effort represents the Summit County community at its finest.”

Utah State Parks has managed the Rail Trail since 1992, however, that could soon change. Scott submitted a letter of intent earlier this month on behalf of Summit County, beginning the process for the county to potentially assume ownership of the Rail Trail from Utah State Parks.

If acquired, a press release from the county stated that it currently has no plans to alter the Rail Trail in any way, shape or form.

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