Frederick gets preview of East Street Rails With Trails project

Frederick could get a bicycle and pedestrian path to Mill Island as part of the East Street Rails With Trails project.

The city invited the public to review the plan and listen to a presentation about it Tuesday night.

Many in the audience were enthusiastic about the path.

“I like it a lot. We’ve seen bike trails like this on Cape Cod,” said Doug Davis, of New Market.

Laura Davis hoped that the trail would be an attraction for people all over Frederick County, encouraging them to support businesses along the trail.

Toole Design Group, a national engineering and architecture firm with an office in Washington, has been working on the design since November.

The group expected the trail to be used for transportation as well as recreation.

“This could be one of the main (throughways) on this side of town,” engineer Tony Gammon said.

County Commissioner Paul Smith, who voted to fund designing the project, hoped that the trail would alleviate congestion by giving people alternatives to driving and offer people a way to reduce fuel costs.

The proposed path would be begin at the Frederick MARC station, where bikes would share the road with cars.

It is possible that the bikes on the road could be a traffic concern, Gammon said; however, traffic is so slow in that area that he did not think the shared lane would affect drivers.

The designers acknowledged that some bikers could be uncomfortable sharing the road with cars.

The path would connect to secondary pedestrian trails at Fifth and Seventh streets, giving bikers an alternate route if they wanted to avoid biking with cars downtown.

At Fifth Street, where there is more space along the road, the trail will become a dedicated bike lane.

The design had several safety features including raised crosswalks and “bike boxes,” which help bikers make left turns by putting them ahead of traffic at intersections.

The biggest safety feature would be a new bridge over Md. 26 at Clemson Corner.

The bridge is the only safe way to cross the highway, Gammon said. He hoped that a dramatic design could attract visitors to the trail.

“It makes for an additional reason to use the trail and it makes it a destination,” he said.

He mentioned that the temporary pedestrian bridge at Motter Avenue could possibly be repurposed on the trail as a cost-saving measure.

The concept began in 2000 as part of the city’s Shared Use Path Plan, and was officially adopted in 2002.

The design phase of the project cost $80,000 and was funded by the Transportation Land-Use Connections Program of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, City Planner Tim Davis said.

When the design is complete, around June, the project will be eligible for construction funding. It is unclear how much the final project will cost because of the different options available.

Costs will be estimated in phases and the project will be built in phases, said Jeff Ciabotti, Toole Design Group senior planner.

Supporters are optimistic that when the work is done, it will be a point of pride for the city.

“It would be another one of Frederick’s crown jewels,” said Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee member Bill Smith.

Advertiser Content