EASTON — Gov. Martin O’Malley recently approved $826,500 for the Easton Rail Spur Line project that would extend the town’s Rails to Trails another 2.3 miles to state Route 33.
O’Malley approved the Federal Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP) funds for the project, which will start somewhere along the existing trail between Idlewild Avenue and Marlboro Avenue, then extend near the entrance to Easton Village. The entire project is estimated to cost about $1.6 million; the TEP funding is about half the total cost.
About $402,000 of the project should come from Elm Street Development, which is responsible for a part of the project under the PUD ordinance for Easton Village. Their part includes about 2,000 feet of a new bicycle/pedestrian path and a new 250-foot bicycle/pedestrian bridge over the Tred Avon River.
The town also won a $41,000 grant for the project from the Maryland Bikeways Program, which is state funding through the Maryland Department of Transportation.
All told, the total estimated cost for the town is about $383,000, said Zach Smith with the town planning office.
“We are very fortunate to have been awarded TEP funding and the Maryland Bikeways Program funding for this project and further to be in the position to leverage Elm Street Development’s required improvements as part of our required match,” Smith said. “These factors collectively make this project feasible for the town to complete at this time.”
Town officials are calling the project the Rail Trail Spur Line, which will include an 8- to 10-feet wide asphalt path similar to the existing trail. Smith said the project will include several at-grade street crossings using brick speed tables like those on the existing trail.
The new trail also will include an at-grade crossing of state Route 322 at the Port Street traffic light, he said. That crossing will include push-button pedestrian signs similar to what is at the state Route 322 and Marlboro Avenue intersection.
Smith said the town’s Comprehensive Plan has shown the project for at least 15 years. He also said the project should take between two and three years to finish.
Town officials are working on finalizing the pathway and design for the trail, Smith said.
“Generally the plan is to follow the right-of-way formerly used by the Rail Road but there are a few places where we need to work with adjoining property owners to ensure that we have what we need to build the project,” he said. “We will be reaching out to all property owners in the vicinity of the proposed trail in the coming months.”
d a public meeting will happen in the near future, where people can see the proposed plan and offer comment.
“We thank Gov. O’Malley and the State of Maryland for their support to construct the Easton Rail Trail Spur Line Project,” Easton Mayor Robert C. Willey said. “We are looking forward to adding this trail to our system and continuing our efforts to promote bicycle access and tourism in Easton.”
O’Malley said trails strengthen and connect communities, and enhance the quality of life for people who use them.
“Constructing the Easton Rail Spur Line will provide opportunities for Maryland’s families, residents and visitors to explore and enjoy our great State’s natural and cultural treasures,” he said.