State defers Patapsco Valley bikeway OK

May 23, 2002|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

A group of environmentalists derailed yesterday a plan to build a $1.5 million bike trail and bridge that would run through Patapsco Valley State Park on the border of Howard and Baltimore counties.

Although state officials recommended that the state Board of Public Works approve the project, known as the Grist Mill Trail extension, the environmentalists raised enough questions about the 1 1/4 -mile project to have it temporarily withdrawn from consideration.

The Board of Public Works, composed of the governor, comptroller and treasurer, decides the fate of all state-funded infrastructure projects.

A contractor's bid to build the trail for nearly $1.5 million will expire Tuesday, meaning that if the project is eventually approved, it would have to go out for bid again and could cost more.

"It's a stumbling block that will be surmounted, but it will take many, many months," said Charles L. Wagandt, an Oella developer and project supporter.

The path has been at the center of an extended battle involving environmentalists, local residents and developers who disagree over project's cost and potential ecological impact.

Supporters say the trail will help the environment by keeping bikers in a confined area. It could also provide a link between the north and south ends of the 14,000-acre park to bikers and hikers.

But critics contend the trail and its construction would harm vegetation in fragile riverside wetlands and cause erosion.

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