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Finish line ahead for Carroll County Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan

Finish line ahead for Carroll County Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan
Pete and Jane Clarke of Damascus prepare their tandem bike before riding in Mount Airy Bicycle's "I've Ridden Every Day this Year" New Year's Day bike ride Jan. 1. In 2014 the Clarkes rode the same tandem bike across the country from their home in Damascus to Astoria, Oregon. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Carroll County could see its bicycle-pedestrian master plan draft go to a public hearing as soon as April.

The Planning Commission accepted chapters of the document as early as January 2018, and after discussing Chapter 8 — implementation strategies — at this month’s meeting, were advised the Planning Department will present the final draft to move to a public hearing in two months.

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When it is done, it will serve as a guide for municipalities across Carroll to make their roads more bike- and pedestrian-friendly and better prepare the county to request grant funding, according to Planning Department Director Lynda Eisenberg.

In Chapter 8 “we have prioritized some of the key connections that were [outlined] in Chapters 3 and 4 [Existing Conditions and Future Conditions],” said Comprehensive Planner Clare Stewart at the Feb. 6 meeting, “and want to leverage state and federal programs for improvements to existing infrastructure. In a way, that will yield the greatest impact on the county as a whole.”

Other goals of the implementation section of the document include “working with local elected officials, government agencies and the community to promote and emphasize bicycle and pedestrian safety training and outreach,” she said.

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The plan also recommends creating a Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Council.

“I’m pretty sure all of our surrounding counties have those committees and we could learn a lot from what they’ve done,” said Stewart.

The council would help coordinate bike-ped accommodations with site plans that require road-related construction and improvements, maintain public awareness, and keep bicycle and pedestrian safety as a top priority when any infrastructure is constructed near roadways, she added.

Eisenberg said that once the plan is finished and adopted, however, the county would need to take an additional step to be able to enforce it.

“If the decision is made to incorporate this plan, by reference, into the county master plan, then this would have the force of the county master plan behind it,” she explained. “We would do a succinct update to the county master plan for that, and I would also recommend the transportation master plan … to give it more gravitas behind it for master projects.

“[The plan] been really well-received by the public,” she said. “Part of it is this is a fun document. It’s good for the community, it’s good for the environment, good for development.”

The drafted plan can be found online on the Department of Planning section of the Carroll County government website. Planning Commission meetings can be found on the Meeting Portal and Video Archive on the Carroll County government website.

Once the plan is finished and accepted by the Planning Commission, it will go to a public hearing for 60 days.

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