This Place Matters: Exploring Rural Planning through Funding a Rail-Trail in Harris County, Georgia

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Shelton, T. Austin
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The purpose of this paper is twofold. First it is meant to be an aid for the possible creation of a rail-trail in Harris County, a largely rural county in middle-west Georgia. The rail corridor in question, over twenty miles long, has been abandoned for nearly a decade. Its location is ideal for a variety of tourism and recreation related activities, as well as potential economic development. Second, it will hopefully be something of a manual for rural and small-town trail development, and provide an easy reference for rural county governments and small municipalities who are seeking to rejuvenate their communities by reshaping unused infrastructure into a public good. To do so, it will lay 1 Margello, The Costs of Rail-to- Trail Conversions, 2014. 6 out the tools and processes of trail development through the story of the trail through Harris County, and its implications for the county and residents. The history and literature surrounding rail-trails will be explored, including examples of challenges faced by other developments, followed by a brief exploration of the geographic and historical context of the rail conduit in question. Trails in communities with similar features to Harris County will also be briefly covered. An exhaustive list will then be presented of potential sources of funding, categorized by type, and will form the bulk of this paper. Finally, arguments and research regarding rural economic development and the impact of rail-trails on rural communities will be examined, exploring both positive outcomes and the unique challenges faced by this particular type of development.
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Applied Research Paper
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