Jan 202012

Where did funding for the Met Branch Trail go?  County Executive Ike Leggett released his proposed FY13-18 capital budget this week, and it shows no funding for the trail at all.  Wayne Phyillaier has written up all the gory details in his post on Silver Spring Trails.  He notes that:

  • All funding for r.o.w. [right-of-way] acquisition and construction is deleted from the CIP budget.
  • The proposed route, if it is ever built, has been thrown out of the CSX corridor and across state highways.

In the county’s previous capital budget (FY11-16) the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) between Silver Spring Transit Center and the existing trail on Fenton Street (about .6 miles) was to be completed by FY16 at a cost of some $12 million.  But in the new proposed budget, MBT expenditures are listed in county’s project description as follows:

  • FY13 – $0
  • FY14 – $0
  • FY15 – $0
  • FY16 – $0
  • FY17 – $0
  • FY18 – $0
  • Some time after 2018 (beyond the scope of any budget now being crafted) – $9.999 million

The County Executive would also change the trail route, calling it “adoption of alternative cost-effective design”.  Wayne notes:

To add insult to injury, the new proposed budget also shows that MCDOT plans to change the route of the MetBranch Trail, if it is ever built. The MCDOT plan would eliminate the grade-separated trail crossings planned for Georgia Avenue and E-W Highway and instead force the trail across both of these busy state highways at-grade.

It doesn’t help that one organization is actually opposing portions of the trail.  Preservationists who own the historic B&O railroad station are not willing to grant the trail needed right-of-way.  Railroads were built to provide transportation that benefited the entire region.  Somehow I doubt the railroad builders wanted zero-tolerance preservation of their unused stations to completely block other beneficial forms of transportation (trails) for ever and ever.  We can preserve the station and build the trail.

  8 Responses to “Metropolitan Branch Trail removed from county budget!”

  1. Tell me where to protest.

  2. For a county that sells itself as environmentally conscious and progressive, this decision is nothing short of a betrayal.

    It’s also the last straw for Ike Leggett. I was already upsete by the Fillmore debacle: dumping the Birchmere and shutting out IMP to hand a sweetheart deal to LiveNation, one of the worst forces in the music business.

    He’s corrupt and senseless. Leggett Out!

  3. According to some private discussions with DOT, the delay and design change is largely due to the historical preservationists’ unwillingness to give up any land for the trail. It’s understandable that the county wouldn’t want to put a project in the budget when there is still a big unresolved hurdle. They are trying to get past the hurdle, but it
    will take a concerted effort by advocates to keep pressure on the county.

  4. Already sent a complaint to CW Ervin about this. Get the word out to contact the Council.

  5. The MCDOT and the County Exec. have requested funding be eliminated or defered on this project several times before, since it started in 2004. They have a history of using any hurdle to justify complete inaction.

    No, we should not accept this weak explanation from MCDOT for completely eliminating all funding for the next six years.

  6. Thank you for covering this issue, which is very important for future transportation needs and the needs of the Historic B&O Station. Montgomery Preservation (MPI) does have great concerns about limiting the use of the rear platform and the large bridge ramp proposed on our property. When our dealings with MCDOT appeared to reach a dead end, we did tell them to go away. Nothing was happening.

    But the idea that the at grade crossing at Georgia is the final alignment is not what MPI was told. The trail will not go away. Our officers were told personally face to face by County Executive Leggett that the at-grade crossing over Georgia Avenue is an “interim” measure and the funding was cut due to fiscal restaints. We were quite emphatically informed that the trail WILL be built and a safe solution must be found to cross Georgia Avenue. We believe him.

    That is why MPI recently submitted an alternative front trail alignment to the Maryland Historical Trust to see if it is worth pursuing. We are working positively with MHT and want to find a way to resolve this that will include our needs in the solution. Our board would rather be proactive and work to find a way that lets us use our facilities, not destroy our environmental setting, is safe, and will also work for the trail users.

    We agree that funding should not just disappear entirely for the next six years – no futher exploration of design or necessary engineering will be done and all of us will still be waiting and hanging in the wind waiting for a remedy in 2020.

    Judy Christensen, Director
    Montgomery Preservation Inc.

  7. Thank you Judy.
    For a longer MPI comment see http://www.silverspringtrails.org/?p=1978

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