Extend the Paint Branch Trail North?

paint branch trailWe’ve heard the concept tossed around a couple of  times, but what would it actually take to bring this great trail north of its terminus behind Home Depot? Crossing under 12 lanes of beltway traffic doesn’t appear to be the biggest obstacle since there is already a substantial underpass in place for the stream. The real question is will there ever be enough of a political coalition together to convince the USDA’s BARC facility to give up the necessary right-of-way (in red on the map). Once the county bridges that gap and brings the trail to its property (in green) just to the north of BARC, where is there left to go and would it be worth the added environmental disturbance in the first place?

–> See full sized map (produce from PGatlas.com).

7 thoughts on “Extend the Paint Branch Trail North?”

  1. Can’t see them taking it North when they won’t even bring it a short distance East to connect to the Courtyards and College Park Woods. CPW residents have been asking for this for years. I’d jump on my bike in minute if this connection existed, but I won’t risk riding along Metzerott. Now I jump in my car to drive to campus and to Lake Artemesia. A connection to CPW would be so nice!

  2. The College Park Woods trail branch has been difficult to get largely because of the need for an easement across a private property for a portion of the route. A trail extension north of the Beltway would have a very difficult time tying into the residential development at Ikea because of a significant difference in elevation there. Efforts are being made to achieve both, however.

  3. So you can buy some swedish furniture and take it home on your bike? Just kidding, a lot of people live in that area now. I imagine the usda can be a difficult partner. The grade change couldn’t be any more difficuly than what that Mazza developer has to contend with, could it?

  4. Bob hit on the major hurdles. Some thoughts:

    1. I have MNCPPC trails staff working with BARC and others to try to resolve the BARC issue. If that cannot be resolved, the plan would be to eventually place a bike lane on the upgraded Cherry Hill Road to get up to Sellman.

    2. However, one gets to Sellman, their would be either a trail through the Beltsville Community Park (by the Community Center) tying back into the northwest end of Montgomery Road and/or a bike lane up the short distance of Sellman to Montgomery Road.

    3. I have a Beltsville road improvement project under design for Montgomery Road from Route 1 to Powder Mill that will include a bike lane.

    4. From there, it should connect up Old Gunpowder Road to Cross Creek. There is trail in Cross Creek presently that connects to a trail in Fairland Regional Park. That takes you up above the ballfields on Old Gunpowder Road.

    5. The future plan is to (a) tie into Konterra’s development and additional trails and bike lanes, and (b) continue north on Old Gunpowder to the Reservoir.

    In summary, there are several ongoing projects – real ones, not just musings – that would connect a lot of dots to get one from the trail end at Cherry Hill Road all the way to the Rocky Gorge Reservoir. While I oppose the ICC (still), we are negotiating with MDOT/SHA to use the ICC mitigation funding earmarked for bikes/trails to connect all of these dots.

    Suggestions welcome.

  5. Very interesting. Obviously some sort of easement along the stream corridor and a connection to Ikea would be ideal, but I’m not sure it would be worth the environmental impact (and red tape associated with multiple federal agencies – USDA, FHA for going under the beltway, and USACE for wetlands) associated with such an alignment.

    If the trail folks are already in talks with BARC, perhaps they should be talking about straightening and clarifying the Paint Branch Trail here:

    Such a project could increase trail usage for commuting purposes (like Mazza), get some land for MNCPPC to install some active recreation facilities in the area, and provide some land for forest buffers in order to distance BARC’s agricultural operations more from the stream.

    Just a thought…

  6. Good thought and i will check it out and confer with MNCPPC. Additional thoughts welcome.

    Please do not forget that there are many people NORTH of IKEA who would like good bike/trail access. I hear from many people who want to see an interconnected trail/bike lane system all the through the Northern portion of the County. It is very doable. Some of these people are UofMd employees and some just local employees who would prefer to avoid driving in the traffic.

    Let’s make a deal – you rethink College Park and I will rethink everything north of it. 🙂

  7. The integration of a bike lane onto route 1 is a good idea in theory, but in my opinion the benefits do not outweigh the downfalls.
    There are several good feature to having this travel route available for the community; mainly to make the commute easier. Someone may also want to save themselves a little gas money, or reduce fuel emissions. Those are all great reasons to support this trail. But, I don’t think that these bike lanes are going to be as frequented as some of you avid cyclists may believe.
    Speaking generally, the plan is for these trails to be incorporated into the shoulder of the highway, route 1. This in itself poses a huge threat of collisions between motorists and cyclists. If a car, or bike, accidentally drifts six inches to a side it could possibly b their demise. Also, it was mentioned on this site that emergency vehicles had clearance to use this lane if necessary. Judging by the rate of speed these vehicles commonly travel I see no way that a little mistake on the drivers park wouldn’t cause trouble.
    Besides the danger involved, one must consider the definite increase in traffic congestion that this project will incur. First, there would have to be construction ambling down the road, possibly taking a decade to complete their mission. This construction would definitely decrease the velocity of the traffic, and possibly condense it into fewer lanes. Once the project is complete, in the mid-2010’s, the speed limit would have to be reduce because of the factor of safety I said before. Even if the limit were maintained, that doesn’t mean that the vehicles won’t caution themselves to slow down.
    I go to school at the University of Maryland, College Park, and I currently live on campus. So, I can just see how an increase in bike use could negatively impact the campus. Primarily there would not be enough parking for the bikes; even now one can see students chaining them up to the railings. There simply aren’t enough bike racks to accommodate the surplus of bikes that this trail could possibly bring.
    You may have caught the mention of having to chain the bikes up to a fixed object. There is a lot of theft and vandalism as it is in our situation; the more opportunities to cause mischief, the more crimes that will be committed. I have seen bikes dismantled, chains sawed through. With so many more bikes around people , I think, will be less privy to notice if a criminal is tampering with a bike that doesn’t belong to them.
    So, in conclusion, a bike trail may benefit some who wish to have a less conventional commute, but to the majority the trail will be a nuisance. If someone chooses to bike to a destination, yes, they may have to stop and wait a minute for cars to pass. But, weighed against the overall safety and happiness of the community, I believe that there is no contest. People just have to come up with new tactics for biking, because the strategies that are evident in this plan are sub-par.

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