Dave Zweifel, editor emeritus of the Cap Times, has determined that the creation of the Badger State Trail from Madison to the Illinois border robbed the area businesses of a rail route that they could now use, and was a mistake.
In an opinion piece posted Monday, Zweifel says the decision to abandon the line and turn it over to recreation was short-sighted. He does not expand that argument beyond the Badger and the 60 Rails-to-Trails pathways that extend for 1,300 miles in the state.
Wisconsing built the first Rails-to-Trails project in the nation, the Elroy-Sparta Trail, which opened in 1967.
Zweifel's primary point appears to be that decision-makers should be cautious about tearing out railroad tracks for bike and pedestrian paths because the demands for freight service and the pressure on local roads may make those lines valuable once again.
"As our population grows and our roads become more and more congested, the need for a diversified transportation system will become critical," he writes.
That's the same argument that advocates for Rails-to-Trails projects have been making as they seek to have bike paths included in the transportation system.