Ground is set to be broken this fall for the first — and shortest — section of the Ma & Pa Trail that will connect the end in downtown Bel Air with the end in Rock Spring, county officials said.
The middle section of the trail, totaling 2.5 miles, will connect the 3.3-mile section that runs from Annie’s Playground to Williams Street in Bel Air with the 1.7-mile section that starts on East Jarrettsville Road in Friends Park and ends on Melrose Lane at Blake’s Venture.
“It’s a complicated project —it’s not as simple as clearing a path in the woods,” Cindy Mumby, a spokesperson for Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, said.
After the $8.5 million project is complete, the entire Ma & Pa Trail from Forest Hill to Fallston will be 7.5 miles long.
“The big picture here is that the Glassman Administration is pleased to be moving forward on this project,” Mumby said. “The Ma & Pa Trail is the most popular parks and rec facility. And when it’s complete, we’re looking at a 7.5- mile beautiful trail that will connect users from Fallston through the Town of Bel Air and then north of town to Forest Hill.”
Nearly two years ago, the county announced that after years of negotiations, it had obtained the easements necessary to build the middle piece.
The county paid $100,000 for an approximately 660-foot long by 20-foot wide easement through property owned by H & H Joint Venture LLC, while the Town of Bel Air paid $75,000 for an easement to provide an entrance and exit and other amenities along the stretch of the trail that is within the town's borders.
Work on each of the three sections, whether it be obtaining funding, designing the portion or building it, will be done simultaneously, Mumby said.
This fall, in addition to a community meeting to update the public on the project, ground will be broken on the first section — the road crossing on North Main Street.
It’s a fairly short section, Mumby said, but one of the more complicated because of all the agencies involved.
The trail will cross in front of Independent Brewing Company to the east side of Main Street, where the trail will continue north and east to Blake’s Venture.
A center island and warning lights will be installed at the crossing, which is expected to be completed in the spring, Mumby said.
Also next spring, ground will be broken for the second section, from the Main Street crossing to North Avenue, where a parking lot will be built on property the county owns. Construction will likely take about a year, according to Mumby.
In the spring of 2020, the county will break ground on the third section, which because of the topography will require more boardwalks and bridges than the other section.
“Then we’ll have the entire project complete by spring 2021,” Mumby said, but added each section will open as it’s completed.