COLLEGE PARK – Two projects in College Park worth nearly $1 million and designed to enhance pedestrian and bicycle transportation in the city were announced Tuesday by Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.
Two pedestrian bridges will be built over the Paint Branch stream, giving direct access to the University of Maryland campus. Other improvements include a hiker-biker trail providing access to the campus and the Metro bus stop, as well as an observation platform overlooking the stream.
The second project will consist of a one-half mile trail along the east side of U.S. 1 through College Park. It will serve as an extension to the city’s Trolley Trail, providing a “missing link” of a continuous trail running the entire length of U.S. 1, Steele said.
The announcement comes as the Maryland Department of Transportation is on a statewide tour to discuss transportation projects throughout the state. Additional projects in Prince George’s County will be announced Oct. 14.
Named the North Gate Park, the Paint Branch project was designed by students in the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
Its goal is to allow walkers and bikers easier access to the campus and local businesses without having to deal with heavy traffic on U.S. 1, Steele said.
“We are showing our commitment to being good stewards of the environment by creating new ways to allow our citizens to access their communities without using their cars,” Steele said.
The two projects are moving College Park closer to the forefront of alternative transportation, Mayor Stephen A. Brayman said. The city is joining the university in looking at alternate forms of transportation to relieve congestion on local roads, he said.
“These two projects have the possibility of making it much easier and much more convenient to either walk or bike to work, or to school, or around in your community,” Brayman said.
The projects will also help with economic development, said John D. Porcari, University of Maryland vice president of administrative affairs. The volume of students, faculty and staff, combined with city residents, provide economic opportunity in College Park, he said.
“The literal linkages that we’re building here today are one of the ways we are going to enhance that economic engine,” Porcari said.
The North Gate Park project will cost $830,210 and the Trolley Trail will cost $90,000. The projects will be paid for with enhancement grant awards to the university and the city from the State Highway Administration through the Transportation Enhancement Program, which provides money for non-traditional, community-based, transportation-related projects.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich’s transportation funding package contains an additional $237 million annually to address transportation improvements in every region of the state.
Recently, the administration announced projects in Calvert County, including $1.6 million for the Chesapeake Beach Railway Train, $5 million for the Chesapeake Beach Streetscape and $1.3 million for a new Mount Harmony Road bridge over state Route 260.
And in St. Mary’s County the state plans to widen state Route 237 between state Route 235 and Pegg Road in Lexington Park and the state Route 5 Business Streetscape in Leonardtown.
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