Annapolis residents might get more room for walking next year when the city paves old paths and creates more than two miles of hiker-biker trails near the Homewood and Westwinds communities.
State and federal grants awarded during the past two years will pay most of the $1 million tab for the two projects, the first major steps the city has taken to carry out a master plan for parks drafted 10 years ago.
"What we're starting is an off-street city system," said Gene Arner, chief of comprehensive planning. He added that many people used bicycles in the city "and we're trying to promote more bicycle use because traffic congestion has been an ongoing problem in Annapolis downtown."
According to Arner, most of the city's bike trails are designated biking areas painted on existing roadways. Many of the footpaths routinely used by pedestrians are narrow trails on bumpy surfaces that bikers won't use.
Part of the grant will help pay to smooth and widen the off-road trails, making them useful for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The trails are to link "city recreational facilities and open space with one another" to help keep "an equal distribution of recreational resources within the whole community," according to the proposal in the parks and recreation master plan.
A federal grant won last year will help pay for half the $865,000 design and construction of Spa Creek Trail -- a path that will ramble along Russell Street, Spa Road and into Truxtun Heights Park.
The 1.5-mile trail will pass recreation facilities at the old Wiley H. Bates High School, Bates Middle School and the studios of WYRE (810 AM) radio. Footbridges across two sections of the headwaters of Spa Creek and a pass through the Spa Creek Conservation area are included in the plan.
A state grant awarded in 1995 pays for 80 percent of the $191,000 Poplar Avenue project, a 0.7-mile trail to be built along Poplar Avenue in Homewood between Windell and Taylor avenues.
The trails will connect near Glen Avenue, Arner said. Planners have begun drawing designs and work could begin next spring.
"It's been a long time in coming," Arner said. "We're finally coming to fruition on some of these basic elements of the plan."
The entire plan calls for 36 more miles of interconnecting hiker-biker trails throughout the city, ultimately crossing the Naval Academy Bridge to link to the southern end of the county's Baltimore and Annapolis Trail.
Arner said the system of trails could be complete within five years.
Pub Date: 8/04/97