Proposed routes for the Nicaragua Canal
In December of 2014, work is scheduled to begin on the Nicaragua Canal, also known as the Nicaragua Grand Canal. This is a rare opportunity to work, in conjunction with the canal construction, to build a transcontinental trail, the first of its kind in the world. Please take a look at the email that I sent to canal proponents, including government entities in Nicaragua, the environmental planning group for the Chinese Company that will be building the canal and others. I would love to get feedback from the environmental, recreational, transportation and, of course, trail communities.
Dear Friends of the Nicaragua Canal,
The planning and construction of the Nicaragua Canal affords incredible new opportunities. Among these opportunities is a chance to plan, from the outset, a transoceanic multipurpose trail that runs alongside the Nicaragua Canal and spans the entire width of Nicaragua.
The Nicaragua Canal Trail will serve many purposes, cater to numerous groups, provide a multitude of benefits and be incredibly cost-efficient to build. Since you will undoubtedly be building service and access roads on both sides of the proposed canal, a portion of these roads can be repurposed into trails once you near completion of the canal much as canal towpaths and abandoned railroad corridors are utilized for trails throughout the world. Building a major trail like this, from scratch, does not usually fit into the transportation and recreation budget. However, repurposing current rights-of-way can be much more economical and feasible.
Trail Purposes and Highlights
The Nicaragua Canal Trail would serve multiple purposes:
- It could provide a recreational trail that would serve as an incredible tourist attraction.
- It would provide an alternative and economical transportation option for locals.
- It would provide an environmentally friendly option for locals and tourists.
- It would provide an economic boost for current and future tourism and trail-related businesses such as hotels, restaurants & bicycle rental/repair shops.
- The trail would be available for a wide range of users including hikers, bicyclists, equestrians and many other personal transportation vehicles.
- Beyond the two extremely valuable purposes of providing both a recreational and commuter trail, the Nicaragua Canal Trail would also have the potential for use as: a local access road, an emergency access road, a firebreak and a construction/maintenance access road in places.
The trail would immediately create international buzz among travelers, recreationalists and environmentalists. It would be the first multipurpose transoceanic trail, the first east-west transcontinental trail, the longest multipurpose tropical trail in the world and the longest multipurpose trail in Central America. It would be an incredibly unique and desirable tourist attraction and a huge draw for tourists, environmentalists and recreationalists throughout the world.
Funding for the Trail
As mentioned above, the Nicaragua Canal Trail would cost a fraction of what it would cost to build a trail from scratch. And maintaining a multipurpose trail costs an extremely small fraction of maintaining a road or highway. The trail would be built using concepts already successfully utilized for rails-to-trails, rails-with-trails, canal trails, park trails and urban trails. But, it would still require funding. Fortunately, since trails provide transportation, recreation and environmental benefits, funding sources are plentiful. Some potential funding sources include:
This list just scratches the surface of the thousands of potential funding sources so that no single entity is burdened with too large a portion of funding the Nicaragua Canal Trail.
How to Get Started
Is the Nicaragua Canal Trail feasible? Now is the time to explore that possibility while in the planning and early stages of canal development and construction. It would be my pleasure to provide you with a preliminary feasibility overview as well as suggestions for a step-by-step plan to explore the possibility of developing the trail. At this point, you truly have nothing to lose by at least considering such a trail.
What Can I Provide?
As you can see, I am interested in helping to get the Nicaragua Canal Trail off the ground. This trail would be a huge asset to recreation, the environment, health/exercise, transportation, tourism and Nicaragua’s economics. I would be glad to assist you in the following areas:
- Initial trail introduction to interested parties
- Trail route exploration
- Trail feasibility determination
- Funding options for the trail
- Providing publicity and public awareness of trail
- Promoting trail on social media and beyond
- Securing help ranging from trail organizations, trail engineers and trail development interns
- Forming a Board of Directors for the Nicaragua Canal Trail
- Developing a website and social media presence for the trail
Once again, the most important point to remember at this stage is: You have nothing to lose by at least exploring the possibility of developing a trail in conjunction with the Nicaragua Canal. And you have so much to gain if it turns into a reality. As I mentioned before, I would be happy to assist you in the beginning stages and would be glad to meet with officials from the Canal development team as well as officials from the Nicaragua government and private interest groups.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to explore this idea further. In the meantime, I will be starting to discuss this idea with members of the international trails community as well as other environmental, media and recreation groups. I’m excited to begin talking about a potential Nicaragua Canal Trail.