Bloede Dam removal brings lengthy closure of popular trail at Patapsco Valley State Park

Bloede Dam's removal brings lengthy closure of popular trail at Patapsco Valley State Park

At The Hub bike shop in Catonsville, some of the group rides that it hosts go through the Grist Mill Trail at Patapsco Valley State Park.

Soon, however, The Hub owner Scott Westcoast will have to change gears.

The upcoming removal of the Bloede Dam on the Patapsco River will cause a temporary closure of a portion of the trail that could last 1 1/2 years, as more than 1,500 feet of sewer line needs to be removed from the dam's river bed and moved underneath the frequently used trail.

The closure, which will start at Ilchester Road and continue to a point downstream from the dam, could begin as early as June and last until December 2017, according to Rob Dyke, park manager at Patapsco Valley State Park.

How much of the trail will be closed is unknown at the moment, Dyke said, adding the closure at the northern end of the trail will not break up the path's loop. It will be up to whoever wins the bid for the dam removal project to determine how much of the path needs to close.

"It's not miles," Dyke said.

It's a small inconvenience for Westcoast, who will have to come up with alternate routes for his tours and leisure riding. Also, the news doesn't come as a surprise.

"I know people who have already begun altering their plans for this," Westcoast said. "I don't know how people thought it was going to be removed without having some impact. Reality hits hard. It's been known for some time."

The project, which the state Board of Public Works approved April 6, was up for bid until May 9.

"It connects to [Ilchester Road]," Westcoast said. "People use it for through commuting, and people won't be able to."

Mary Catherine Cochran, executive director of Patapsco Heritage Greenway, expressed concerns about accessibility, particularly for those with wheelchairs or strollers, and no alternate route.

"Losing that will be difficult," Cochran said, "but in the end, we hope that when the trail is reopened and the dam is taken down and the ecosystem is being restored that it will worth it in the end."

There is no plan to implement a temporary paved trail at the park while the construction is going on, Dyke said.

The area of the park that leads to the trail was closed 32 times last year because it became too crowded, Dyke said.

"It's a very busy part of the park," he said. "It's probably one of, if not the most, popular trail."

Tom Quirk, the Baltimore County councilman whose district is home to the area, said he had hoped the sewer line could have been moved elsewhere.

"It's unfortunate, but it's going to happen," he said.

Westcoast said he is excited for the end result. He believes the dam removal and the trail's temporary closure will ultimately open up opportunities for more activities throughout the park.

"It's a small price to pay for the benefits at the end and for the greater good of the area," he said.

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