Five bicycle and pedestrian projects in Maryland set to receive $1.1 million in federal funding will advance several key regional transportation priorities, including expanding travel options, connecting and strengthening Activity Centers, and serving disadvantaged communities.
The projects were recently selected and approved for funding by the TPB, in partnership with the Maryland State Highway Administration. Funding for the projects comes under the federal program previously known as Transportation Alternatives, which metropolitan areas can use to fund bicycle, pedestrian, Safe Routes to School, and recreational trails projects.
Though all five projects are examples of ways to advance the region’s priorities, two in particular stand out. A new rail-trail in the City of Frederick shows how an outer suburban jurisdiction can give residents new non-motorized travel options to reach recreational opportunities and transit, while a new bicycle and pedestrian trail along Prince George’s County’s Central Avenue shows how to provide residents, some in disadvantaged communities, with greater access to both transit and jobs.
Frederick trails will connect residents to recreation and nearby transit
The City of Frederick plans to expand non-motorized travel options for its residents and leverage the city’s open spaces by transforming an old rail bed along East Street into a biking and walking path. The path will run 3.7 miles through the city from the Frederick MARC station to Mill Island. It will provide new connections to other nearby trails used for recreation by bicyclists and walkers and will provide waystations for people to stop and relax. The new path will also make it easier to access the MARC commuter rail station, which connects the city to numerous job centers in Montgomery County and the District of Columbia.
The East Street trail was a top priority for the city because it provides a safe way for cyclists and pedestrians to travel not only throughout the city but to also enjoy Frederick’s open spaces and connect with the commuter rail line. The path gives cyclists and pedestrians access to all of these destinations without having to ride in or walk alongside traffic, which can be a barrier for some travelers.
The new Central Avenue trail will connect people to transit and jobs
In Prince George’s County, a new trail along the busy Central Avenue corridor will provide a safer option to reach nearby Metro stations by foot or bike. Currently, the main way to access the Largo Town Center and Morgan Boulevard stations is by driving along busy roads. Good connections for people who may want to walk or bike simply don’t exist. This new project will use land owned by Metro to create the new trail.
In addition to providing access to nearby transit stations, the Central Avenue trail will also provide important connections between numerous nearby neighborhoods and the county’s new government center and hospital. These connections will give people who live nearby new options for reaching jobs, important government and healthcare services, and nearby retail and commercial destinations.
Both Frederick’s East Street rail trail and Prince George’s County’s Central Avenue trail had their beginnings in the TPB’s Transportation/Land Use Connections (TLC) Program. Early in their development, both projects received technical assistance for planning and preliminary design under the TLC program, which aims to help local jurisdictions in the region better integrate transportation and land-use planning.
Three other projects in Maryland will receive funding this year
A new sidewalk project along Crittenden and 52nd Avenues in the Town of Edmonston will make it safer for area students to walk to school. It will also help people in this Prince George’s County community access bus stops and other destinations more safely on foot. The project will also include features to alleviate flooding from stormwater runoff. Currently, kids often have to wade through deep puddles when it rains, but new permeable pavement and other features will help the water drain from the sidewalk more quickly without being channeled directly into nearby streams.
In College Park, new sidewalks will fill in gaps in the sidewalk network to connect the Berwyn neighborhood and nearby Holy Redeemer School. The sidewalks will improve safety for area schoolchildren walking between the neighborhood and school.
Takoma Park will also receive funding to build new sidewalks to make it safer for kids to walk to school. The city will widen the sidewalks at the corner of Philadelphia Avenue and Park Avenue to make the intersection narrower and discourage speeding. The narrower intersection will also make it easier for people to cross the street in a timely fashion.
Although all of these projects are small—a sidewalk here, a trail connection there—they can have big impacts on people’s lives by making it easier and safer to bike or walk and opening up access to new destinations. All of these projects will go a long way towards providing more options for the region’s residents and providing access to jobs, transit, and recreation.