Towson's 'Bike Beltway' slated to open in June

Construction on the Towson "Bike Beltway", which uses a set of bike lanes and signage to demarcate the 4.2 miles of roads around downtown Towson, will begin this year and should be completed by June, according to a county public works official.

Stephen Weber, chief of Baltimore County's Division of Traffic Engineering said Tuesday after a meeting of the Baltimore County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee that the contract for the work was signed last month.

The Maryland Bikeways Program gave Baltimore County a $100,000 grant — with a commitment by the county to match 20 percent of that —in July 2012. The grant was given following a proposal from the 5th District Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and creates a 4.2-mile loop that connects Towson's shopping centers, schools and downtown area.

Beginning at Towson University, the loop extends north up Bosley Avenue to Fairmount Avenue, where it heads east on Fairmount to Goucher Boulevard to Towson Place shopping center. From Towson Place, the beltway takes Hillen Road and West Towsontown Boulevard back to Towson University.

Weber said Bosley Avenue and Goucher Boulevard will feature full bike lanes, while the rest of the beltway will be outfitted with signs instructing motorists to share the road with cyclists.

Due to procurement issues, construction will be completed in just under two years after the grant was announced, Weber said. The bike lanes must be painted with thermoplastic, a durable compound, but none of the contractors who initially bid on the contract were deemed qualified to use that, he said.

By then, work had to be delayed until after the winter because of weather considerations, Weber said.

Last month, a contract was agreed upon with Midlantic Marking of New Castle, county officials said.

A second Maryland Bikeways Program grant, this one for $90,000, was announced in September 2013. The planned second phase, which will create "spurs" off the loop, including an additional 4.5 miles of bike lanes and signage.

Additions include Kenilworth Drive between Charles Street and Bosley Avenue; Burke Avenue between Towsontown Boulevard and Hillen Road; Putty Hill Avenue between Goucher Boulevard and Loch Raven Boulevard; Fairmount Avenue between Hillen Road and Goucher Boulevard; and along Providence Road and Cromwell Bridge Road to Loch Raven High.

Weber said engineering studies have not begun on the second phase of the project, which could delay its construction until 2015.

"We don't have any more room in Towson for new highways, so we need to do everything possible to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians," Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, said in a statement. "I've been pushing for the bike lanes to finally get built, and I'm now seeing where we can get more projects built, like the Northeast Trail."

The Northeast Trial in Perry Hall was a large issue Tuesday at the county's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee's public input meeting, where it took suggestions on which projects to recommend for funding in the upcoming county budget.

Many advocates came from the northeast area of Baltimore County, and lobbied for additional work on the Northeast Trail in the Perry Hall area. The Northeast Trail was one of several that advocates hope will also be extended to reach other trails, such as the Jones Falls Trail.

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