Hikers and bikers will be able to complete a 14-mile trail journey from Leakin Park to the Baltimore waterfront thanks to a $1 million grant announced yesterday.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced the funding for the third and last phase of the Gwynns Falls Trail as part of a $2 million infusion of federal dollars to expand the state's network of foot and bike paths.
The governor appeared at Charles Carroll Barrister Elementary School in Baltimore and praised the Gwynns Falls Trail as part of his environmental strategy.
"Building our trail network also demonstrates how Smart Growth can connect communities and create a sense of community," Glendening said.
According to the state, the trail will link 29 neighborhoods along its path, which follows the Gwynns Falls stream valley through West and Southwest Baltimore toward the Inner Harbor and the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River.
The first phase of the $12 million trail through Baltimore's "urban greenway" opened in June 1999, connecting Leakin Park and Gwynns Falls Park. A second phase, from Gwynns Falls Park to Carroll Park, is expected to be completed early next year.
Construction of the last section, leading from Carroll Park through downtown to the Middle Branch, is expected to be complete next fall.
Jacqueline Carrera, executive director of the Parks & People Foundation, said her group hopes to see the city trail link with the Patapsco Greenway and the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail to become part of an East Coast greenway running from Maine to Florida.
Carrera said the Gwynns Falls Trail isn't getting as much use as it could because many people don't know it exists. She said the section now open is especially appealing to bikers because of its twists and turns and surprising vistas in a city setting.
"When this is finished, we are going to have one of the world's premier urban trails," Carrera said. "We're just going to be able to give users of the trail a Baltimore experience they've never had before."
The money for the trail projects comes from the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century - known as TEA-21. The federal grants, doled out by states, are matched by contributions from local governments.
In addition to the $1 million for the trail, the city will receive $45,000 to rebuild entrances, provide landscaping and add bicycle racks at Carroll Park.
Among the other grants:
$150,000 to build emergency shelters, provide an all-terrain vehicle for emergency rescue and for other improvements along the Western Maryland Rail Trail in Fort Frederick State Park in Washington County.
$50,000 to Chesapeake Beach to build trailheads for a proposed trail connecting Prince George's County and Southern Maryland along the line of the historic Chesapeake Beach Railway.
$48,927 to pave trails and install benches in Pocomoke River State Park.