|Mattawoman Creek Views (above & below)|
|Near the Middletown Rd intersection.|
|Sample trail/road intersection.|
THE LONG AWAITED RECREATIONAL trail between Indian Head and White Plains is finally moving forward. Last year, the County acquired 13 miles of the defunct rail line intending to turn it into a recreational trail. Commissioner Gary V. Hodge (D) placed a project briefing on the agenda for Tuesday’s board of commissioners meeting; and after the briefing, seemed determined to see action taken that day.
As a result, the Board accepted a bid for more than $500,000 from a salvage company to clear the route beginning mid-November. The Board also voted to move forward with the planning phase of the project. If all goes well, work will begin on the trail in early July 2008.
When complete, it will have cost between $4 and $5 million to construct. The County has budgeted a little over $400,000 for the project. The rest of the funding, explained Tom Roland of the Public Facilities Department, will come from State and Federal sources. The trail will cost the County $215,000 annually to operate. However, after the trail’s maintenance equipment is paid off, Roland thinks the operating cost should drop significantly.
Roland told the commissioners that the trail will finally give visitors access to beautiful views of Mattawoman Creek which haven’t been available to the public before. The trail will have a visitor’s center, rest room facilities, parking, mile markers and interpretive signs. Public facilities would prefer that the trail itself be constructed out of compacted, crushed limestone; hard enough to bike or walk on without sinking, but porous enough to prevent standing water accumulation after a storm.
“Lots of citizens have approached me and are excited to use it,” Commissioner Sam Graves (D) told the Board. Public Facilities expects the trail to become the County’s most popular park. Planning figures estimate about 200,000 annual visitors to the trail.
The commissioners were surprised at the attendance figures. Board Vice President, Commissioner Edith Patterson (D) expressed concern over potentially dangerous 12 intersections the trail has with local roads. Roland explained that warnings for cars and trail users will be posted, but traffic on the roads will have the right-of-way. Trail users will have to treat the intersections with the same care that they would any other road crossing.
Washington D.C. based conservancy group Rails to Trails will work with the County on this project. The plan also calls for