Monday, July 07 2008 @ 12:59 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
[Note I am placing this in the Bike Metro section as the Laural trail head is just a few miles from the B&A Trail and the Full ICC Trail will be a wonderful resource for Balto area bicyclist just as the B&A trail is.]
Please make your voices heard at the July 10th Montgomery County Planning Board hearing on the Intercounty Connector Trail! Let them know you do not want any sections of the trail to be eliminated from the county master plan! If you can\\\'t testify, please send letters and emails to the Planning Board and cc the County Council. See contact info at the bottom of this message.
In what would be a very short-sighted decision, the Planning Board may forever eliminate important sections of the planned trail along the Intercounty Connector highway by removing them from the county master plan. The Planning Department (led by the Board) is making the argument that the trail would cause irreparable environmental damage in natural park areas, despite the six-lane highway next door! Incredibly, this is the same Planning Board that endorsed the highway in 2005. Staff is saying the trail may be the \\\"straw that breaks the camel\\\'s back\\\", ignoring the tons of highway the camel will already be carrying.
The Planning Board would replace the removed sections of trail with sidepaths along busy roads, including New Hampshire Avenue, East Randolph Road, Fairland Road, Briggs Chaney Road, Bonifant Road and Notley Road. The detours are circuitous and force trail users to cross several major intersections and countless streets and driveways where cyclists must be extremely careful. That is inappropriate for a trail meant to serve inexperienced riders and families, and it undermines the promised transportation value.
Removing this trail from the master plan would be a death knell, making it extremely difficult to ever finish the trail even 20 years from now, when gas prices have hit $12 a gallon and global warming has ruined sensitive areas the size of Alaska. Even if the ICC trail isn\\\'t built right away, we MUST keep the entire route in the master plan. Highways attract development and employment sites that must be served by good bike routes. Just imagine if I-270 had a parallel bike path. That highway was also planned to have a path, but it too was canceled -- by the state -- 20 years ago.
Trails through parks and along highways were planned to be the skeleton of the county bike trail network, providing efficient mobility for cyclists by virtue of their length and location away from street crossings and traffic lights. The ICC trail was meant to be the backbone of that skeleton, linking together many north-south trails. Unfortunately the Planning Board has removed several park trails from the master plan over the years. This trend must stop.
The worst and longest detour being discussed is the one circumventing the Paint Branch Stream Valley Park. This would eliminate three miles of trail and replace it with five miles of detours. But trail impacts in that region have not even been studied. Changing a master plan should never be done without adequate study. Please insist that the Planning Board fully study the trail (how to build it, not just why we shouldn\\\'t) for ALL the detour sections.