Maintenance costs will vary greatly depending on the type
of trail, amount of volunteer labor use, available services, and geographic
location of the trail. These costs, however, must be considered during the
trail planning process, to ensure that trail owners can pay for the ongoing
maintenance of the trails they develop.
Maintenance costs are rarely broken down into specific
tasks such as those listed in Table 7-1. Most trails
will be maintained by an existing agency, such as a local or state park,
public works, or maintenance department. Estimated costs, therefore, are
broken down by the type of maintenance performed. There are three basic types
- Routine maintenance includes all the general activities -- such as brush
clearing, trash collection, and sweeping that may take place on a
regular basis throughout a season.
- Minor Repairs refer to activities that can be expected every five years
or so, such as amenity replacement, trail sealcoating, repainting, or restriping.
- Major Reconstruction refers to significant expenditures involving resurfacing
or reconstruction. These activities are the most costly trail maintenance
activities and should be planned for in advance.
Most of the routine maintenance of a trail facility will
be performed by an existing agency or a volunteer group. Local trail owners
should be well equipped to include trail maintenance into their parks or
public works maintenance budgets and activities. Activities that should be
considered as routine maintenance include:
- Yearly facility evaluation to determine the need for minor
- Tree/brush clearing
- Map/signage updates
- Trash removal/litter clean-up
- Repair flood damage: silt clean-up, culvert clean-out, etc.
- Patching, minor regrading, or concrete panel replacement
- Snow grooming and/or plowing for winter-use trails
- Planting, pruning, and general beautification
- Installation and removal of seasonal signage
The yearly cost for routine maintenance depends on the
maintenance capabilities already in place by the trail owner and the amount
of volunteer labor used. In general, yearly routine maintenance costs can
be estimated at $1,500 per mile. This figure assumes a single season trail,
and may increase if a trail is groomed or plowed for winter use. This cost
is estimated in year 2000 dollars, and will be affected by inflation. For
a discussion on inflation, see Chapter 5: Cost Analysis.
The need for minor repairs should be determined by a yearly
facility evaluation (see routine maintenance above). Minor repairs may include
the following activities:
- Replacement, repair, or repainting of trail support amenities, such as
restrooms, signage, benches, trash receptacles, or hitching posts
- Replacement of a portion of the trail
- Restriping of trails
- Sealcoating of asphalt trails
The cost for replacement, repair, or repainting of trail
amenities is based on the initial cost of those amenities. Trail operators
should maintain records of the general costs of trail amenities as a means
of estimating future repair and replacement costs. If custom elements, such
as lighting, decorative railings, or benches, are used in trail design, the
trail owner should consider ordering extra elements at the time of construction
and storing them for future use, thereby defraying the cost of single-runs
Replacement of a portion of a trail may be necessary if
severe flooding, continual erosion, or weak soils cause periodic difficulties
with trail maintenance. For estimated costs for new trail construction, see
Chapter 5: Cost Analysis.
Restriping of trails will cost the same (in year 2000 dollars)
as the original striping. The trail owner should keep a record of the original
bid to determine the price of restriping a trail using contracted labor.
In many cases, it is cost effective to perform restriping along with other
trail or highway maintenance. In such instances, the trail owner itself will
be the best source of costing information.
Sealcoating of asphalt trails should take place approximately
every five years. This will increase the longevity of the trail and provide
a quality riding surface. When performed, sealcoating will cost approximately
$3,500 per mile for a 6-foot pedestrian trail and approximately $5,800 per
mile for a 10-foot multi-use trail. A periodic cost such as this should be
included in the trail owners Capital Improvement Program, in order
to ensure that adequate funding is available.
There are essentially two activities that are considered
to be major reconstructions:
- Resurfacing of asphalt trails
- Complete replacement, regrading, and resurfacing of all trails
Asphalt trails will need to be resurfaced approximately
every 10 years, depending on how well they have been maintained. A resurfacing
typically involves placing an asphalt overlay on an existing asphalt surface
in order to erase cracks and bumps. It is not a perfect solution, as weak
underlying soils or tree root penetration will eventually affect this top
layer, but it does offer a lower cost means of extending a trails life.
The cost for resurfacing can be based on unit costs shown in Chapter
5: Cost Analysis. Asphalt surfacing costs approximately $1 per square
foot for a 4-inch depth. Asphalt overlays should have a depth of 1 to 2 inches.
Table 7-2 offers some sample costs for asphalt resurfacing.