Pedestrians and cyclists who travel down Van Dusen Road in Laurel may soon have twice the amount of space to pedal and stroll.
The city installed a .4-mile-long bike path along the road in 2006 and now plans to build a second path using a $40,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Transportation, said Paul McCullagh, Laurel’s public works director.
“[Van Dusen Road] is a major throughway,” McCullagh said. “Some of that doesn’t even have a sidewalk.”
The state grant, supplemented by an additional $10,000 from the city, will fund the design process to add about a half mile of bike path to Van Dusen Road from Killbarron Drive to Contee Road, he said. McCullagh said the design is set to include a new or improved curb and gutter system, new paving and an environmentally-friendly way to manage stormwater runoff from the street.
The Van Dusen Road projects are part of Laurel’s grand scheme for a bike-friendly city, called the Bikeway Master Plan.
The Laurel City Council approved this plan in 2009 and it has led to projects such as signs and painted road lines meant to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists, McCullagh said.
Kate Sylvester, community planner for the Maryland Department of Transportation, said Laurel’s grant was one of around 70 given to communities across the state for various bikeway projects this year.
“Laurel’s project we thought was a really great project because it is connecting a regional hospital, a number of communities and provides options for walking and biking for lots of different purposes,” Sylvester said. “Building those sort of options around the state provides safe opportunities for transportation and recreation that we hope will help reduce some of the congestion on our roads and [help] our efforts to improve air quality.”
Once the design phase for Laurel’s new bike path is complete, city officials will likely apply to the Department of Transportation for a construction grant and hope to complete construction of the path in the next two years, McCullagh said.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Steve Sawtelle, the owner of Laurel Bicycle Center on Baltimore Avenue. “[Van Dusen] is a pretty narrow road with no shoulder.”
In the 30 years his family business has been operating in Laurel, Sawtelle said he has seen the city become more bike-friendly, but said there is still room for improvement.
“[The city] did improve by designating bike lanes along Fourth Street and putting up signs. They’re trying,” he said. “It makes people aware that people are riding their bikes there, but you’re still in the middle of the road.”