Cyclists using the Washington Baltimore and Annapolis Trail hope for a more direct route rather than a windy one over the Patuxent River.
Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation and Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks department officials will use a $560,000 Maryland Department of Transportation Bikeways Program grant for a preliminary bridge design to connect both ends of the trail named after the original WB&A railroad line with the same name.
Anne Arundel County officials seek a detour after the bridge around the original railroad line will create steep hills, but the adjustment would cost $6 million versus $3 million to align with the original rail line, said Jim Titus of Glenn Dale and board member of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.
“You want a straight trail,” Titus said. “That’s what rail trails are supposed to do. It was good for a railroad it will be good for a bike. Instead they want to add a detour. It’s going to substantially increase the length and make a gradual hill.”
The 10-mile WB&A Trail, which follows an old railroad line with the same name, goes through Lanham, Glenn Dale and Bowie before stopping at the Patuxent River. It picks up again on the Anne Arundel County side of the river and ends in Odenton.
Using the railroad path is not an option since it would cut through the Meyer Station Nature Center, said Rick Anthony, the director of Anne Arundel County’s Recreation and Parks.
Anthony said the county government got a “verbal commitment” from New Jersey-based developer Two Rivers LLC to help pay for a part of the trail that takes a detour around the original railroad alignment. Two Rivers LLC is developing The Preserve at Two Rivers, a community for residents ages 55 and older that includes a golf course.
“That railroad bed is not something we’re willing to resurrect,” Anthony said. “It’s not an issue. We’re going to go around it.”
John Stamato, president of Annapolis-based Ribera Development LLC, which is working on The Preserve at Two Rivers was not immediately available to give an update on the progress of the project.
Eileen Nivera, a planner coordinator for Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation, said Prince George’s planners are currently designing a link to a railroad spur that would fit in line with Anne Arundel County’s proposed detour. She said the sooner the work on the preliminary designs for the bridge begins the better, but said an undetermined amount of grant money is necessary to move forward.
“We’ll need more money to do the final design and permitting, then we’ll need money for construction,” Nivera said.