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.