Ask Outdoors Girl

February 05, 2011

Joe Bollinger of Glen Burnie writes: I'm an avid biker and enjoy the many trails throughout Maryland and northern Va. Are there any plans to convert the abandoned rail tracks on the Eastern Shore to rail trails? Also, when will the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Trail be extended across the Patuxent River?

Outdoors Girl replies: As you noted, the WB&A Trail suffers from a "missing link." In the west, the trail starts near Glen Dale in Prince George's County and runs six miles to the Patuxent River. In the east, a four-mile segment starts at a gazebo at Odenton Road and Piney Orchard Parkway in Anne Arundel County. In between is a privately owned 135-acre nature preserve, MeyerStation, used by scouts, school groups and 4-Hers.

A decade ago, Anne Arundel officials tried a ham-fisted land grab that failed when the public decided that as much as it wanted the rail trail completed, it wasn't crazy about tossing a senior citizen off his land. County Executive Janet Owens, in line for $1 million in federal trail-building money, promised to find another way and begin work in March 2003.

Obviously, like the trail, the project went no further. Is there hope? Well, there's no reason why the O'Malley administration couldn't dip into Program Open Space money to finish the job.

As for old rail beds on the Eastern Shore, the problem is money, or lack thereof. A Department of Natural Resources report lists a few potential candidates: the Easton-Clayton Rail Trail in Talbot and Caroline counties; the Hillsboro Rail Trail between Hillsboro and Denton; the East New Market-Secretary-Hurlock Rail Trail in Talbot County; the Salisbury-Hebron Rail Trail in Wicomico County; and the Westover to Crisfield Rail Trail in Somerset County.

Again, Program Open Space funds, which largely come from the state real estate transfer tax, might be the way to go.

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