Econsult Solutions was retained by Alta + Greenways to assess the estimated benefits of the proposed Ecusta Rail-to-Trail, a multi-use trail that will take the place of the currently inactive Norfolk Southern rail corridor. This 20.3‐mile rail line runs from the City of Hendersonville to the City of Brevard in the state of North Carolina.
Econsult Solutions looked at various benefits from the creation of the Ecusta Rail-to-Trail, including the economic impact of upfront construction of the trail, the property value impact on homes with the completion of the new trail, the economic impact of additional tourism activity generated by the addition of the trail, the direct use value impact enjoyed by the users of the trail, the health care cost reduction impact associated with the increased exercising, and the environmental impact of increased foliage.
The immediate construction of the Ecusta Rail-to-Trail will represent a large expenditure that creates many employment opportunities, which will lead to large amounts of initial expenditures and tax revenues for the local jurisdictions within that region. When completed, the Trail will provide an important stimulus for regional tourism, attracting thousands to the area annually who otherwise would not have visited. These trips will generate spending that would have otherwise not occurred in the area and they will spark the creation of many new businesses, which will employ hundreds of people from the area. Additionally, property values of houses in close proximity to the Trail will increase in value, creating a larger tax base for the region.
Econsult Solutions estimated health benefits associated with increased exercise, including reduced health care costs, reduced worker’s compensation, and increased worker productivity for the thousands who will exercise on the trail. The benefit to non-tourist users of the trail was also calculated through a unit day value. Lastly, Econsult measured the positive environmental impacts that the Trail will generate.
Through this analysis, Econsult Solutions found that the proposed Ecusta Rail-to-Trail will serve many purposes and provide a variety of benefits to all kinds of users. It will generate significant municipal tax revenues, be a significant catalyst for the region, spur economic development, and lead to health and environmental benefits.