North Carolina budget includes $12M in funding for Saluda Grade Trail
Published 12:17 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023
POLK COUNTY—In the North Carolina budget that passed on September 22, the proposed Saluda Grade Trail received $12 million in additional funding. The proposed 31.5-mile rail trail would extend from Inman to Zirconia, passing through Campobello, Landrum, Tryon and Saluda along the inactive railroad corridor.
The funding will go toward the purchase of the 16-mile portion of the rail corridor in North Carolina over two years, and additional funding will be needed to complete the purchase and develop the trail. South Carolina has already earmarked $15 million in its budget to purchase the section of railroad in that state.
The project is being led by the Saluda Grade Trail Conservancy, a coalition of three nonprofits—Conserving Carolina, Upstate Forever and PAL (Play, Advocate, Live Well).
“We are grateful for this major investment in the Saluda Grade Trail, so this unused rail line can once again serve as a vital asset for our communities,” says Kieran Roe, executive director of Conserving Carolina.
The trail would be a linear park, accessible to people of all abilities and open for walking, running, biking and other forms of outdoor recreation.
“Norfolk Southern is ready to sell the railroad corridor and this proposed funding would allow us to seize this opportunity for our communities and our state,” says Roe. “The Saluda Grade Trail has extraordinary potential to benefit our local economies, outdoor recreation and health.”
The Saluda Grade Trail Conservancy has begun an in-depth study of the trail’s economic impact and is seeking public input on the vision for the trail. The community is invited to participate in public input sessions on October 17 at the Inman Public Library and October 19 at Polk County High School. More information about these sessions can be found at saludagradetrail.org.