January 2007

The unveiling of plans for the Odenton Town Center has members of the Anne Arundel Horse Council wondering whether the long-awaited South Shore Trail might also be in the works. According to a recent release from that group, ” … it seems logical, given the fact that $150 million is being invested for a retail/residential complex around a transportation system.”

The release goes on to say: “MARC might be the only train in town now, but the [Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Trail] is more than a memory. The [right of way] that once led to the state capital is envisioned as a transportation alternative [that] offers exercise, recreation and a linear community park.

“The South Shore Trail is a planned multi-use rail/trail project between Odenton and the Annapolis Mall. The 10.3-mile path connects to an existing segment of the WB&A Trail, which currently extends from Odenton Road to Strawberry Lane in the Piney Orchard Community. It is a part of both [the] East Coast Greenways (Maine to Florida) and [the] American Discovery (California to Delaware) Trails. Anne Arundel County is the only place these national trails intersect.

“In addition to the neighborhoods adjoining this trail, there are also schools, libraries, convenience stores, parks and athletic fields that are destinations for those too young to drive.

“Along this [right of way], across from the old Gambrills train station, is the one-time Naval Academy Dairy Farm, proposed site for the Maryland Horse Park and Agricultural Education Center. In a region poised for tremendous growth, an 875-acre park with trails, picnic pavilions, playing fields and a community center is important to maintain the quality of life. Access via the trail will make this multi- purpose park a convenient and safe destination for family outings and athletic competitions.

“The election brought us a new county executive, one with an appreciation for open space and alternative transportation options. As a delegate, John Leopold was a member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Caucus. As a candidate, he advocated land preservation and open space protection. We anticipate the new Recreation and Parks director and Planning and Zoning director will share those priorities.

“We were also happy to hear the state of Maryland is allocating $7.6 million to begin the long overdue process of upgrading Route 3 with improved intersections and landscaping. But it doesn’t make us want to jump in our cars for joy.

“We look at each of these planned projects as opportunities to complete a segment of the South Shore Trail. We hope the new county leaders will remember the many people who prefer walking and biking to driving, and will make sure South Shore is a part of the plan.”