Construction begins any day to turn a 6.1-mile stretch of the old Washington Baltimore & Annapolis rail line between Lanham and Bowie into a recreational trail, and it can't happen soon enough for Morris Warren.
Warren, owner of Aberco-Warren Chemical Co. in Bowie and an avid outdoorsman since suffering a heart attack some years back, has worked tirelessly toward getting this stretch of roadbed converted. The dream should come true now by summer of 1999.
For his decade-long efforts, he recently was honored by the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching America's communities and countryside by creating a network of public trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors.
"The first instructions from my doctor after my heart attack were, 'Go out and get some exercise.' All I was looking to do was find LTC some interesting places to hike and ride a bicycle. Then I remembered the WB&A; from my youth.
"One thing led to another and, after talking up the trail, I was contacted by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. They were seeking a citizen advocate and, next thing I know, I was it."
Warren, 71, says he wouldn't trade his work as an advocate for anything, going so far as to say, "Being involved has been a great experience. I have no doubt it saved my life."
In addition to a heart bypass, he has had two aortic valve operations, which haven't slowed him down much. "My routine includes three days a week at a health club [Nautilus machines and treadmill], a couple miles of walking every day and, on weekends, I ride a bike 15 or 20 miles each day, more if I can. About 25 miles is comfortable for me," he says.
The money involved on the WB&A; project ($4.5 million) comes from Prince George's County and a federal program.
Ultimately, Anne Arundel County plans to pick up where Prince George's lets off, extending the trail through Odenton to Annapolis, where it will hook up with the existing 15-mile Baltimore & Annapolis Trail to Glen Burnie. Also in the future is a 12-mile stretch around BWI Airport. Already in existence in the RT system is the North Central Trail, which runs from just north of Baltimore to Hanover Junction, Pa.
For further information on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, call 202-331-9696 between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.
Each Sunday Fitness Profile tells you about a Baltimore-area resident who inspires in his or her quest to be healthier. If you know of someone who'd be a good subject, write to: Fitness Profile, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore, Md. 21278.
Rail trails in Maryland
More than 150 abandoned railroad corridors across the country have been converted to 10,000 miles of recreational trails for hikers, bikers, riders and cross-country skiers. In the Baltimore area, a rail trail exists between Annapolis and Glen Burnie and between Ashland and Hanover Junction, Pa. Work is beginning on the stretch between Lanham and Bowie, thanks to Morris Warren of Bowie.
Pub Date: 5/03/98