Iowa bicycle enthusiasts say old railroad cars may provide more options for building new bike trails in the state. Several old railroad beds have been converted to bike trails, and now the old rail cars are being used for trail bridges over creeks and streams. Iowa Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Mark Wyatt says in the past trail builders have avoided many natural areas because it’s too expensive to put up a bridge.
“The opportunity to put in a bridge using a retired railroad car can allow you to do it at a fraction of the price and still have the same load strength that the railroad car has with its steel integrity,” Wyatt says. He says generally trail builders go out of their way to avoid crossing creeks and streams, but this opens up more options.
Wyatt says, “But certainly if there’s if there’s some feasible and cost-saving you can do, that does make it easier to go through some different terrain you might not be able to go through with a conventional bridge span.” Engineers developed the method in Buchanan County, where they’re turning railroad cars into bridges on county roadways. Wyatt says there should be an ample supply of cars, which are routinely retired after sveral year of use.