Money for Frederick trail bridge included in appropriations bill

·3 min read

Jul. 6—A major Frederick transportation project is a step closer to reality after construction money was included in a federal spending bill.

An appropriations bill for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies approved by the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives last week included $4 million for the city of Frederick's East Street Trail Liberty Road Bridge Crossing.

The appropriations bill must still be approved by the full House in the coming months.

The bridge will be part of a trail that will stretch from the MARC station on East Street in downtown Frederick to Md. 26 and into the county to Walkersville and beyond.

The $4 million will be used to fund the third phase of the project, including construction of a bridge over the interchange at Md. 26 and U.S. 15 and extending the trail as a shared-use path north to just past the Clemson Corner shopping center.

The second phase of the project — a shared-use path along the east side of East Street from East 8th Street to 800 feet south of the U.S. 15/Md. 26 interchange — is expected to possibly open in 2024 or 2025. However, completion of the full project is still years away, said David Edmondson, a transportation planner with the city.

The city's stretch of the trail will run from the MARC station to Monocacy Boulevard on the north side of the city, where the project will switch to the county and run past Walkersville, Edmondson said.

The trail is also a critical part of the city's long-term redesign of East Street, by providing a link between the center of the city and the neighborhoods on the northern end for people to get to work or school without having to drive, he said.

As it grows, the trail would be an amenity for the city's and county's park systems, as well as an economic development asset, said Rick Weldon, president and CEO of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.

Small businesses in the shopping centers along Md. 26 will welcome customers no matter how they get there, he said.

And the trail could provide another transportation option for the Md. 26 corridor that can be congested with traffic, he said.

When Frederick Mayor Michael O'Connor came to him more than a year ago to see if the Chamber would support the project, Weldon was glad to say yes.

"Wherever [the trails] are, I've seen them be incredibly heavily utilized," he said.

The East Street project is one of four in the county that were requested in various appropriations bills by U.S. Rep. David Trone, a Democrat who represents the Sixth Congressional District and serves on the Appropriations Committee.

They include:

—$4 million for a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math workforce development program at Mount St. Mary's University

—$1.3 million for improvements and upgrades for the city of Frederick's Permanent Supportive Housing, Food Distribution Center, and Soup Kitchen

—$698,000 for the purchase of clinical equipment for a crisis stabilization center for the Frederick County government.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP