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Communities in Motion 2040 2.0: Active Transportation

Rails with Trails

Currently across the nation, there are an estimated 2,032 open Rails with Trails routes, for a total of 22,753 miles. Within Idaho, 22 Rails with Trails routes exist, covering 437 miles. However, few are in southwest Idaho.

Through the COMPASS Rails with Trail Workgroup, planners, elected officials, business owners, active transportation advocates, police officers, health professionals, and other members of the community are exploring the potential of a dedicated, off-street, low-stress, bicycle and pedestrian route along the Union Pacific Boise spur line (the Boise Cutoff).

The 35-mile alignment of the Boise Cutoff has over 385,000 residents within one mile of the route and provides a direct link from downtown Nampa, through downtown Meridian, to the Boise Depot and beyond.


In addition to connecting the Treasure Valley, this Rails with Trail route encourages a healthy community, provides transportation choices for local residents, promotes safety by limiting interactions with vehicular traffic, and contributes to economic development and tourism along the line. For example, a 2006 Outdoor Industry Foundation study found that “Active Outdoor Recreation” contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy, supports 6.5 million jobs, and generates $88 billion in annual state and national tax revenue.

As this effort continues, next steps include completing a Rails with Trails Development Cost Study to estimate cost of trail development along the Boise Cutoff rail corridor, and identify barriers associated with trail development. This will prepare the region to work with Union Pacific on a preferred right of way alignment, finalize the design, and secure funding.

How does active transportation help fulfill Communities in Motion goals? Learn more here.

For more information on Rails with Trails in the Treasure Valley, contact Rachel Haukkala at 208/475-2230 or rhaukkala@compassidaho.org.