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Cost to build MTB trails

Old 11-04-18, 06:11 AM
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Rajflyboy
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Cost to build MTB trails

I see that the Walmart foundation has spent 70 million on building trails in Northwest Arkansas. I see the costs of trail projects around my local area.

Im shocked at how much it cost to build quality trails. I can understand the cost to purchase the land but just the cost to actually build trails is more than I thought it would be.

Can someone in the know explain the costs involved and basically how all of this works?
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Old 11-04-18, 06:45 AM
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I am not an expert on how these things get done. I am only commenting on things I've read in my local media about local trails (paved multi-use, and unpaved). What you have to consider is the involvement of government. An entity can't just say "Here's a trail. Go use it." Think of establishing a new road for cars, and all that would go into that. Whether the trail is on public or private land, or if it's being funded by private donations, or tax dollars...if you're inviting the general public to go out and use the trail then there are all kinds of regulations that must be met. For example: Permission(s) for use of private lands; impact studies for safety to users; impact studies for the affect on the communities the trail transits; environmental impact studies; engineering impact studies... You get the idea. All that costs a lot of money. And that's BEFORE the first shovel-full of dirt for construction.

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Old 11-04-18, 06:53 AM
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Any construction project that is remote, narrow, winding, long, requires the use of small equipment, lots of hand labor, extensive design issues (where it goes, control of runoff, etc) is going to cost a lot per ft/sq yd/whatever units to build.

https://www.singletracks.com/blog/mt...n-bike-trails/
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Old 11-04-18, 07:11 AM
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What the first two responders wrote.
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Old 11-04-18, 07:23 AM
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If you owned 80 acres of land, you could just go out with a rake and rake in a trail wherever you like. But if a city is going to build their tourism efforts around such a trail, then there's a lot more formality that will need to go in to getting things done. What is the shape and lay of the available land? How can it be best used? How should trails be laid out to maximize mileage. Where should the parking go? What about water runoff and sustainability. Don't forget the toilets! These questions get you to hiring surveyors and other experts, constructing maps, analyzing water flow, etc. On top of all that, the Walton family probably wants everything built on a schedule and to a deadline. That means hiring experts for everything from the design through to the construction.
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Old 11-04-18, 08:23 AM
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Old 11-04-18, 08:36 AM
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As somebody who had built a bit of trail, I can tell you that even dirt singletrack is incredibly labor intensive to build if you want it to be sustainable and able to hold up to moderate use.

Anyone can go out and create some rake-and-ride, fall line trail without a lot of effort and time.. But to build trails that donít turn to crap with a little time and use, there is a lot of digging, and even with trail building machines to do the initial cuts it takes a lot of hand work to finish.

And yes, there is a bit of design and permitting needed to overcome. And in some cases, the impact studies can be costly.
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Old 11-04-18, 08:46 AM
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With MTB trails, a lot of the concern is in not doing harm. obviously one wouldn't want to go through a forest felling trees, and obviously there have to be easy and harder routes ... and less obviously, the designers need to consider erosion, wear, and as people mentioned, run-off when it rains. When you figure how many bikes are skidding around corners and tearing up inclines .... ruts and holes, harm and damage ... and no one wants to knock down ridges, carve valleys into hills, or create swamps in the middle of a trail.

Plus, huge amounts of hand labor ... carrying in mesh, or pine needles, or boards, digging and filling, packing berms ... and anywhere a big piece of earth-moving equipment could fit, an MTB rider probably wouldn't want to ride.
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Old 11-04-18, 02:55 PM
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Great replies. I did not consider all the government red tape and permitting that may be required. Thankfully we have a lot of funding for many of the trail projects around the country.

I guess WalMart is trying to attract talent into Northwest Arkansas. This is one way of doing that while also helping the locals.
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Old 11-04-18, 07:14 PM
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Coincidently, my ride today was on one of Rhode Island's multi-use paved bike paths (it's a rails-to-trails initiative) East Bay Bike Path - Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Transportation. I hadn't ridden on it since early spring this year. On that ride, I had gotten so frustrated at how dilapidated it had become. Lots of tree roots, frost heaves, etc. Not long after that ride I recall reading in the local newspapers that the state DOT had earmarked money to fix the trail. Myself, and other cyclists were elated. Now, it's in really good condition. But WOW...the letters to the editor by the non-cycling public were completely contrary. Lots of comments like "How dare you spend money repairing a bike path while children are going to bed hungry" and similar comments. So, if in your state these trails fail under the care of the state DOT, you have to make sure you vote for (or weigh your support for) bonds and other initiatives that set aside money to create, and care for the trails.

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Old 11-05-18, 06:40 AM
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Maybe Walmart could use the trails to do R&D work on their mountain bikes ?
Just sayin' .............
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Old 11-05-18, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Rajflyboy View Post

I guess WalMart is trying to attract talent into Northwest Arkansas. This is one way of doing that while also helping the locals.
Talent? IIRC, two of the grandsons are big cyclists. Cycle-tourism can bring in a lot of money to an area. E.g.:

https://ravallirepublic.com/business...9bb2963f4.html

I was interviewed for the article. The original version, which appeared in the Great Falls Tribune, had photos.
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Old 11-05-18, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by mixteup View Post
Maybe Walmart could use the trails to do R&D work on their mountain bikes ?
Just sayin' .............
Yes, it would be good for them to know how bicycles with the front wheel installed backwards ride on dirt as opposed to sidewalks.
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Old 11-05-18, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Talent? IIRC, two of the grandsons are big cyclists. Cycle-tourism can bring in a lot of money to an area. E.g.:

https://ravallirepublic.com/business...9bb2963f4.html

I was interviewed for the article. The original version, which appeared in the Great Falls Tribune, had photos.
I agree.

The new Seths Bike Hacks video about Northwest Arkansas suggests that bike trails can bring talented people to an area like Arkansas.
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Old 11-06-18, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_ View Post
...the letters to the editor by the non-cycling public were completely contrary. Lots of comments like "How dare you spend money repairing a bike path while children are going to bed hungry" and similar comments.
We could have fed so many children with that asphalt!

I wonder how many of those people were so outraged by starving children that they actually supported any charities?
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Old 11-06-18, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
We could have fed so many children with that asphalt!

I wonder how many of those people were so outraged by starving children that they actually supported any charities?
good questions
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Old 11-06-18, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
We could have fed so many children with that asphalt!

I wonder how many of those people were so outraged by starving children that they actually supported any charities?
I'm pretty sure they should be happy that some local paving contractor's kids ate and are going to college.
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Old 11-06-18, 05:34 PM
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Old 11-07-18, 09:05 AM
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That's allot of money. 70 million dollar can hire 1,400 people at $50k for one year. Imagine 1,400 is like a small army and that much labor, alot can be accomplished.
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Old 11-09-18, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
That's allot of money. 70 million dollar can hire 1,400 people at $50k for one year. Imagine 1,400 is like a small army and that much labor, alot can be accomplished.
big trail building operation

https://www.singletracks.com/blog/mt...f-nw-arkansas/

great riding with crappy music

Last edited by Rajflyboy; 11-09-18 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 11-09-18, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
That's allot of money. 70 million dollar can hire 1,400 people at $50k for one year. Imagine 1,400 is like a small army and that much labor, alot can be accomplished.
Leaving out so many other costs (noted in other posts) as to be a sop****ric comment.
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Old 11-09-18, 12:42 PM
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Now that trails have been built is it enough to make you want to travel to Bentonville to ride ?
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Old 11-09-18, 01:47 PM
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I can give a small perspective on cost. We have a small network of single tracks here and the city gave the local club some land if they would build some more trails. So they agreed. The club raised 303,000$ They didn't have enough to do 5.8 miles for the addition. A bunch of labor was volunteered from the club, rented equipment, engineering, environmental studies had to be done. If its done properly its very expensive. They were short like 8,000$. they got it done and the trail is excellent but this stuff costs lots of cash!
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Old 11-09-18, 01:50 PM
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Near cities, there are issues with multi-users.

Once one gets beyond the cities, the Federal Government owns millions of acres of land around here. But, there are also private bits here and there in critical spots.

One option is to hunt down abandoned logging roads. Already have some "design", gravel, & etc. Just need to have saplings cut out, debris cleared, etc.

I haven't done any build a trail from scratch. I can imagine it can be some work, but I've volunteered on trail crews in the past, and one can clear a few miles of windfall pretty quickly. Creeks can be a bit of a hassle to deal with. Cutting banks in dirt would be a pain, and much more difficult through rock.

Having official "trail crews" come through can be nice, but one can make a passable trail without them.

One of the issues that one runs into is multi-use trails, and each trail user group has different goals.

Mom rides horses. The horses are happy to step over small logs at trail level, but there are issues with poorly designed bridges, and the trail should be cleared to 7 or 8 feet in height. However, they are happy fording many small creeks if accessible.

I presume the cyclists don't like the logs across the trails, but don't care about anything above say 5 feet or so. Bridges can be somewhat less substantial than the horse bridges.

Then there are, of course, the hikers and joggers. Still can step over things. Switchbacks aren't a problem. Less height, etc. They may not want to get their feet wet in creeks.

And, of course, there are issues with drainage, washouts, & etc.

One of the things about multi-use trails of minimally improved trails is that use actually may makes the trails better.

I've hiked trails that were infrequently used, and actually LOST the trails. What a hassle, and it can potentially be dangerous to lose a trail. Horses, bikes, etc... all make the trails more clear, and may naturally level out the surface with wear.
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Old 11-09-18, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Leaving out so many other costs (noted in other posts) as to be a sop****ric comment.
Threads on BF with discussions about $ costs and spending, or not spending, money on anything, are choice locations for posting sop****ric comments.
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