Perils for Pedestrians

TV talk about people who walk

Gallery of Power Line Right-of-Way Trails

Pedestrians and bicyclists need the same sort of long, continuous right-of-way (ROW) that utilities use. Doubling up use on an existing ROW is usually easier and cheaper than creating a new pedestrian ROW from scratch, and therefore can be a wise use of scarce resources when pedestrian funding is limited.

Here are some examples of the many existing trails along high tension power line ROWs. They look just like ped/bike trails you would find anywhere. For more information on pedestrian use of utility ROWs, see the Right of Way page.

Papillion, NebraskaTrail with switchbacks under power lines.

The Western Hills Connector Trail follows high tension lines over steep slopes in Papillion, Nebraska. The wide ROW provides plenty of room for curves and switchbacks to keep the grade at acceptable levels.

Dallas, TexasPreston Ridge Trail.

The Preston Ridge Trail in Dallas, TX, is just one of many trails that run under the high tension lines of Oncor Electric Delivery Company. Oncor operates the largest electricity distribution and transmission system in Texas.

"We are in our communities listening to our customers and they tell us that community trails are important to them," said Oncor Chief Customer Officer, Brenda Jackson. "The Oncor Texas Trails program is a way we can truly give back to our customers throughout our communities. It will also give our employees another opportunity to support community needs."

Photograph courtesy Jon Morrison.

Horsham Township, PennsylvaniaHorsham Powerline Trail.

The Horsham Powerline Trail runs under high tension lines belonging to PECO. The trail is wide enough to handle PECO maintenance trucks. The bridge in this photo can handle up to 20 tons.

Several other communities are considering trails under PECO high tension lines. PECO and its parent company Exelon helped fund the Greenways and Trails Master Plan for Limerick Township. From page 49 of the study:

"PECO requires a three step process once the township decides to move forward with the construction of a trail on PECO lands: 1) The township submits engineered construction plans to PECO; 2) PECO conducts their in-house review across multiple departments; and, 3) plans are revised per PECO comments before the licensing agreement is executed. The review process typically lasts 3-4 months or longer."

More information on PECO's policies are in the appendix.

Norristown, PennsylvaniaSchuylkill River Trail.

The Schuylkill River Trail follows PECO high tension lines along an abandoned rail line going past downtown Norristown. The trail will eventually run almost 130 miles along the river northwest from downtown Philadelphia, with substantial parts under power lines.

Skippack Township, PennsylvaniaSkippack Trail.

The Skippack Trail runs under four sets of PECO high tension lines. Despite the mass of wires overhead, the trail is a popular connection between parks and other trails. The trail shares the right of way with corn fields, tomato fields, and horse corrals.

DuPage County, IllinoisIllinois Prairie Path.

The Illinois Prairie Path runs under Commonwealth Edison power lines. The power line right of way is also an abandoned rail line, and the path was one of the first rails-to-trails conversions in the country when it was started in the 1960s.

Photograph courtesy Daniel Thomas, DuPage County Division of Transportation

Columbia, MarylandPlano Bike Trail.

A local trail runs under BG&E high tension lines. Columbia, Maryland, has an extensive network of trails that connect neighborhoods and communities along both sides of the right of way.

Plano, TexasPlano Bike Trail.

The city of Plano, Texas (north of Dallas) has a shared use trail that runs for part of its route under high tension lines.

Photograph courtesy Debra Goeks, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP)

Henderson, NevadaPaved trail under power lines.

Trail using power line ROW in Henderson, Nevada.

Photograph courtesy Dan Allison

Burlington, OntarioTrail along high tension lines in Burlington, Ontario.

A trail/powerline corridor in Burlington, Ontario.

Photographs courtesy Dylan Passmore M.Sc.Pl, IBI Group. Trail along power lines in Burlington, Ontario

Seattle, WashingtonChief Sealth Trail.

Chief Sealth Trail in Seattle, Washington.

Photographs courtesy Bill Schultheiss, P.E., and Peter A. Lagerwey, Toole Design Group.Bicyclists on Chief Sealth Trail.

Folsom, CaliforniaOak Parkway Trail.

Folsom, California has many power lines coming from Folsom Dam, and some of the power line corridors have bicycle/pedestrian paths. This is the Oak Parkway Trail (aka the power line trail) under construction in 2007.

Photograph courtesy Anthony C. Powers, P.E., Dokken Engineering.

Liberty Township, OhioLiberty Township powerline trail.

A trail in a powerline easement in Liberty Township, Butler Co., Ohio. The street in the foreground is Ashdale Ct. Nearby to the north is a connecting trail in a gas line easement.

Photograph courtesy Don Burrell, OKI Regional Council of Governments in Cincinnati.

Scottsdale, ArizonaCross Cut Canal path.

This is the path along the Arizona Cross Cut Canal in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Photograph courtesy Stephan Vance, Senior Regional Planner, San Diego Association of Governments

Ventura, CaliforniaBike trail, Ventura, CA.

Power line trail in Ventura, California. Bike Trail, Ventura, CA

Photographs courtesy John Cinatl, Caltrans - District 6 Bicycle Coordinator - Retired
Clovis/Fresno and Port Hueneme/Oxnard, CA

West Windsor, New JerseyBicyclists on Laura Ofelia Trolley Line Trail.

Bicyclists enjoy the Trolley Line Trail in West Windsor, New Jersey.

Photograph courtesy Jerry Foster

Falls Church, VirginiaWashington & Old Dominion Trail.

The Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Falls Church, Virginia, runs close enough to touch the pylons holding the power lines. Since the power lines are high in the air, the surface is available for a trail.

Portland, OregonSpringwater Corridor Trail.

The Springwater Corridor Trail shares a ROW with both a rail line and a power line in Portland, Oregon. In 1903 the Olmsted Brothers produced a park plan for Portland that included scenic boulevards and trails. The proposed trail system has grown with the city, and now uses many types of ROWs to create a network.

Dallas, TexasKaty Trail, Dallas.

Katy Trail in Dallas, Texas.

Photograph courtesy Bill Schultheiss, P.E., Toole Design Group.

Dayton, OhioMad River BIkeway, Ohio

The Mad River Bikeway, part of a large system of paved off-road trails in the Miami River Valley in southwest Ohio.

Photograph Courtesy Judy Floy.

Glen Dale, MarylandWB&A Trail under BG&E transmission lines

The Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis Trail (WB&A) runs under transmission lines for Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E) in Glen Dale, Maryland.

An old "No Trespassing" sign is still visible in the weeds near the WB&A Trail. Ever since this section of the trail was built in 2000, the "No Trespassing" message has been obsolete.Obsolete No Trespassing sign by WB&A Trail

In contrast, a simple request for a trail was denied by PEPCO recently.

More on Right of Way Trails.