WVDOT Helps Develop Unique ‘Rail Bike’ Offering

The West Virginia Department of Transportation recently helped a private company develop “rail bikes” for a stretch of unused railroad track owned by WVDOT along Buffalo Creek Road near the J.G. Bradley Campground in Clay County.

[Above photo by WVDOT]

Work crews from the WVDOT’s Division of Multimodal Transportation Facilities and Division of Highways “Cenforce” heavy maintenance construction group joined with Rail Explorers to prep old railroad tracks for use by specialized pedal- and electric motor-powered rail bikes.

Photo via WVDOT

Via a state partnership deal, Rail Explorers will provide not just the rail bikes for this project, but also build a storage shed for them at the campgrounds, upgrade the campground’s lodge for ticket sales and concessions, and bring in a restroom-trailer system. The company expects to have its rail bikes and related facilities open by early summer.

“I am very excited to see a first class operation like Rail Explorers coming to West Virginia. They are already in six other locations in five states,” explained Cindy Butler, commissioner of the WVDOT Division of Multimodal Transportation Facilities, in a statement.

She noted that crews from her division’s rail section began work on this project by clearing trees and brush at the site, followed by efforts to clean up the tracks themselves.

Then, in March, a group of four state workers from Hardy County replaced wooden rail ties and built a new rail spur, which will be the staging area for the rail bikes.

Photo by WVDOT

As part of the WVDOT’s “One DOT” approach, four members of the Cenforce group – which has a total of 37 employees – spent eight days in March building and paving a new parking lot with 36 spaces.

[Editor’s note: Many of the Cenforce and multimodal crew members working on this project also helped rebuild the Trout Run Bridge for the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad in Pocahontas County.]

“There was a good bit of debris; there was bridge steel; there was an old railroad track. Pretty major drop off, it was all a grassy area,” explained Larry Day, a Cenforce equipment operator.

“No parking, so we stripped everything, backfilled it, removed all the debris, and brought everything up to grade,” Day noted – adding that he is gratified to know that this project is “making a difference” for years to come.

“Oh I love it. I love it,” he said. “You can see what you’re doing and a lot of people are going to enjoy what we’re doing for years to come.”

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