Cyclists want Intercounty Connector bike trail intact
Planning Board staff says the trail should be rerouted along area roads
Bike advocates want the County Council to reject a Planning Board staff opinion that part of a bike route to be built along Intercounty Connector should be rerouted along area roads.
At a County Council public hearing Thursday, area cyclists said public safety would be jeopardized if the bike route goes through roads including New Hampshire Avenue, Route 29, Fairland and Randolph roads. They also argued that the ICC has cleared the necessary land for the bike route.
County Councilman George Levanthal (D-At Large) of Takoma Park and Councilman Donald Praisner (D-Dist. 4) of Calverton were not present at the hearing. A Praisner staff member was present.
Jon Morrison of Brookeville said the county roads he takes for bicycling are not up to the level of nearby counties. With a bike route along the ICC, he said he would have a better bike commute to his job on Route 29 in Silver Spring.
"I felt many times my life was at risk [on county roads]," said Morrison, who also rides on Norwood Road and in northern parts of the county. "This trail, if it was built continuously, would provide me an off-road opportunity to safely commute across county."
As part of its efforts to reroute the bike trail, the Planning Board drafted an amendment to the ICC's Limited Functional Master Plan. Part of this amendment called for trails to avoid environmentally sensitive stream valley parks. The amendment also includes adding a partial interchange along Briggs Chaney Road.
Morrison said he goes to Anne Arundel County if wants to ride a "quality trail."
"Montgomery County doesn't offer me anything of a reasonable length and a reasonable off-road experience," Morrison said.
The Federal Highway Administration approved the road's alignment and interchange locations as part of the May 2006 ICC Record of Decision, according to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Planning staff said in a draft that "certain alignment and implementation decisions are inconsistent with master plan guidance."
The draft says some of the trail should be rerouted to avoid further impact to the Upper Paint Branch Stream Valley Park.
According to the group Montgomery Bicycle Advocates, 60 percent of the trail would remain as is with the rerouting. Other parts of the trail would be "disconnected trail segments" according to its Web site.
Silver Spring resident Casey Anderson, board member for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association, said his group opposes the rerouting of the trail, particularly since there are no trail construction restrictions near the ICC.
"The state did not tell the [planning] board that you need to divert the trail to surface streets," Anderson said. "There's nothing whatsoever in the state's Record of Decision that precludes building the trail. ...You could move it six inches outside the ICC right of way and you could still be fine as far the state is concerned."
The Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment committee will meet 9:30 a.m. Feb. 9 to make a recommendation to the council.