For years, people gathered at a gravel and dirt lot on Dorsey Road to watch planes take off and land at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Now the spot will go formal: by July's end, jet gazers can park in a paved lot, rest under a covered trellis and scan charts that identify passing aircrafts. A vendor will sell hot dogs, chips and soda from a 1939 Dodge Brothers pumper firetruck.
The $598,000 renovation, paid with state and federal funds, began this month when the observation area was closed off to pave the lot, said project officials.
The 75-car lot is expected to be done before the end of this month, and the next step of the project will include building the trellis, a playground, a bike rack, a water fountain and bathrooms, said project officials.
The observation area will get a new name, too. A ceremony in late July will rechristen the spot as the "Tom Dixon Aircraft Observation Area," after the former president of the BWI Neighbors Committee who died last year.
The renovation is the second phase of a $9.8 million, 14.5-mile recreation trail that eventually will allow people to hike and bike from Annapolis to Linthicum to Patapsco Valley State Park.
"With the link to the BWI Trail, it made sense to enhance the [observation] area," said BWI spokeswoman Adrienne Walker-Pittman.
The first of the seven-phase trail project opened last July. The public can now use the 4.4-mile stretch of the trail that runs from the northern end of the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail at Dorsey Road and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard through Sawmill Creek Park, across Stewart Avenue and up Aviation Boulevard to the Benson-Hammond House. From there, the trail goes past Andover Middle School and on to the Linthicum light rail station.
The Dorsey Road observation area has been a popular spot to watch planes because they swoop in at tree-top level before touching down on the other side of Dorsey Road.