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December 14, 2013

Bike, pedestrian plan still being considered

CUMBERLAND — A county plan that’s been in the making for a couple of years continues to move slowly forward, with costs being a concern for Michael McKay, Allegany County Commission president.

“We need to figure out the costs,” McKay said at a recent county work session.

“The goal of this is to list all the bicycle and pedestrian projects in one comprehensive document,” said Paul Kahle, the county’s director of public works.

The goal is to look at all matters that need to be addressed to bring a formal plan to fruition, Kahle said, and each potential project will be evaluated for viability. The hope is to have a working completed document by early next year. McKay said he’d like to have a public meeting at that point. Even the top-ranked projects, though, would take up significant time for the county’s engineering department.

“To run through the finish line, we have a long way to go,” Kahle said.

There is no funding allocated at this point for the projects. A finalized plan may help obtain funding for projects outlined in the plan, county officials said. The formal title for the plan is the Allegany County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.

Another goal of the master plan is to improve biking and walking in Allegany County, county officials said.

The plan isn’t just about the major trails but every type of pedestrian and bike path in the countryside or in towns, including small walking paths and high school tracks where people walk or run for exercise.

The master plan will aim to connect bikers, pedestrians and local transportation systems into a vital network of trail connections throughout Allegany County. An integrated plan could make more recreational opportunities available for residents and tourists, county officials said.

An open house took place on the plan more than a year ago. Kahle said the meeting was well-attended.

County staffers provided the update to commissioners on Dec. 5.

Among the potential projects described in the plan is connecting the town of Mount Savage to Frostburg and the Great Allegheny Passage, while creating a small loop trail that supports the passage.

The new connection would primarily make use of an abandoned rail bed to connect the two towns.

Another project could rehabilitate the tunnel under Frostburg’s Main Street to restore a connection between the GAP and Frostburg, according to the plan.

The proposed trail heads south from the tunnel to become the Georges Creek Rail Trail, ending in Westernport. The trail will provide a “backbone” to link all the parks in Frostburg, according to the plan.

Another project would connect Dan’s Mountain State Park to the Dan’s Rock Overlook Park by a hiking and biking trail.

Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at mbieniek@

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