Jan 092012

The county is considering building a shared use path along Rt. 355 in Clarksburg between Brink Road and Stringtown Road (MD 121).  If built to usual county standards, the path would be at least 8′ wide (10′ is the full standard, but 8′ is more common).  This line on Google Maps shows the planned path location according to last week’s Washington Post article.  The path is in the county master plan, but so are many other paths and it would take decades to build them all based on current bike/pedestrian funding levels.

Also according to the article, the State Highway Administration looked at building the northern half of the path but faced issues with land ownership, trees, utilities and retaining walls.  The county estimates project cost to be $2 to 2.4 million for the 2.5 mile trail.  One million dollars per mile is not unusual, and in some places (like Falls Road in Potomac) sidepaths cost much more (so the Falls Road path project was canceled).

The article states:

Clarksburg parents hope Montgomery County will pay for a path along Route 355 so their children can safely walk to school, rather than taking a longer, approved route.

Montgomery County Public Schools does not provide bus transportation to students living within two miles of a high school or 1.5 miles of a middle school, as long as students have a safe path to the school. As such, students who live in the Clarksburg Town Center or Clarksburg Highlands neighborhoods are expected to walk to school.

They walk along Route 355 — although there is no sidewalk or path — because it is the shortest route.

Route issues aside, making kids walk to school if they live 2.0 miles away (high school), 1.5 miles away (middle school) or 1.0 miles away (elementary school) might be penny-wise and pound-foolish.  The school system does this to save money, but it results in many parents simply driving their kids to school (with all the expense and pollution that involves) or high school kids driving themselves.  Many could bike there (I know I would) but not many do.

  2 Responses to “County considering shared use path along Rt. 355 in Clarksburg”

  1. You can see this with the line of cars that wait outside of elementry schools at the end of the day. However high school students often walk so it does save for them at least.

    • This would be a good candidate for “Safe Routes to School” funding.

      I won’t drive my kids to school just on principle. But I know some buses take almost 30 minutes vs. 5-10 minutes driving, so who can blame the parents.

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