Groups eye expanding trails for hikers, bikers

Prince George's Co., Annapolis, BWI links being considered

September 01, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Two small-area planning groups in west Anne Arundel County might push for hiker-biker trails through Odenton and Severn that would bring pedestrians and in-line skaters from Prince George's County and Annapolis into their towns.

The two committees are far from ready to submit recommendations to the county for inclusion in the general development plan, but ideas for an expansive trail system have surfaced.

Jay D. Catlin, who serves on the Severn panel, said a transportation subcommittee has talked about using the public right of way along the abandoned Washington Baltimore & Annapolis railroad tracks for a path. The tracks stretch through neighborhoods north of Route 32 to a trail that encircles Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The county Department of Recreation and Parks has planned a trail through Odenton that would pass the Maryland Rail Commuter station and follow the railroad right of way south to the Little Patuxent River and county border, said parks administrator Tom Donlin. A four-mile portion of that trail -- the part stretching from Odenton Road south, over the Little Patuxent River to Patuxent Road -- is scheduled for construction as early as next summer, said Jack Keene, head of planning and construction for the Recreation and Parks Department.

Prince George's County has proposed a trail that would end at the Patuxent River on its side of the border.

Another trail along the South Shores line, from Odenton to Annapolis, has also been in the county's long-range plan, he said.

"The section between Odenton and BWI hasn't been in the thinking, but it certainly has some potential," Donlin said.

He added that county planners hope to begin construction on another small piece of the Odenton trail in six months. Recreation officials hope to receive a state grant that would help pay for a slice of the trail to run along Odenton Road from Sappington Station Road to Piney Orchard Parkway.

One problem the groups and county face to expand the trail to BWI is crossing Route 32. Planners would also have to cross a branch of the Severn River and make room for the trail on WB&A Road, which uses the right of way, Catlin said.

"It's subject to all kinds of questions," Catlin said. "We don't know what will happen, but we'd like to dream that you could bike your way through the communities and the major shopping centers."

Mark Wallis, who chairs the Odenton Small-Area Plan transportation subcommittee, said it's worth exploring the possibilities because a trail could be a secondary commuter route for residents.

"You don't want trails to nowhere," he said. "You want to create trails to where people live and work. If we build a trail in Severn, then we would look to link this thing up" to other trails.

He said a trail system could benefit many residents, but the railroad right of way, which is level, would be especially helpful to the elderly.

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