Matt Drew: Rail-to-Trail decision a disappointment

KCR-Hebron train depot-8039

On Tuesday, Aug. 18, more than 20 interested citizens came out to express both their support and concerns over a proposed feasibility study to convert an existing, abandoned railway into a multi-use trail. The proposed 9.8-mile trail would connect Salisbury, Hebron, and Mardela Springs, and would provide a protected, off-street path for cyclists, runners, and walkers.

Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver proposed this feasibility study (among other projects) in his preliminary transportation priorities letter to MDOT, which requests support from the state for local projects. This same project had been also listed in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 priority letters penned by then-Executive Rick Pollitt.

Last Tuesday’s public hearing was meant to give local citizens an opportunity to give feedback to Wicomico County Council on this project, so that the Council could decide on whether to endorse the project.

Unfortunately, this opportunity was taken away, by a last-minute decision by Executive Culver to remove this project from the letter.

In Tuesday’s meeting, Executive Culver addressed those gathered, saying that, as long as he was County Executive, he would not support this project.

Mr. Culver’s reversal is unfortunate and surprising.

Salisbury has recognized that making a community bike friendly improves the quality of life for its citizens.  This summer, Salisbury was awarded with the League of American Bicyclist’s prestigious Bicycle Friendly Community award.

Eastern Shore communities, such as Cambridge, Delmar, and Fruitland, have expressed interest in following Salisbury’s example.

My hope is that Mr. Culver’s lack of support for this rail-to-trail project does not indicate an overall desire to block all bike improvement projects for the citizens of Wicomico County.

Matt Drew is founder of bikeSBY, a group of citizens focused on creating a high-quality network of bike lanes in Salisbury and surrounding communities.

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