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A marine railway consists of a set of tracks and carriage leading into the water that will allow a boat to be lifted entirely out of the water and transported upland when not in use. Marine railways are sometimes associated with upland boathouses or boat ports that provide safe vessel storage and over wintering of boats.

Although usually less intrusive than other structures such as in-water boathouses, the construction of a marine railway can still require dredging, filling and/or cutting of the bank, all of which can have negative effects such as:

  • Removal of shoreline vegetation;
  • Disturbance/destruction of cultural resources;
  • A navigation or swimming hazard;
  • Trapping floating aquatic vegetation which decays and can affect water quality;
  • In-water supports can harmfully alter fish habitat.

Marine railways are routinely approved when the following policies are addressed in the application.


  1. The track and its supports must be constructed of material that will not leach contaminants into the water.
  2. The marine railway must not constitute a hazard to navigation or other recreational users of the water.
  3. The railway must be located within the allowable specified dock area.
  4. The railway must not be placed in a known or potential fish spawning area.
  5. The railway must be constructed and placed in a manner that will minimize the removal of shoreline vegetation and will not require substantial alteration to the shoreline.
  6. Grease must not be used on those parts of a marine railway that will enter the water.
  7. Dredging policies will apply if this activity is required.

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