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by Judith Hruz
Imagine a bike path connecting Route 108 in Olney – perhaps as far east as Olney Theatre Center – to the Shady Grove Metro Station.
“It would be a pretty impressive piece of the bikeway puzzle, said Danny Rubenstein, who has championed the so-called Bowie Mill Bikeway Project for some eight or nine years.
But no county funding is scheduled in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which begins in July. Funding to build the bike path is not scheduled until Fiscal Year 2028 and the project would not be finished until fiscal 2029 – some 15 years after it was first proposed.
Rubenstein, who is the Greater Olney Civic Association’s special projects coordinator for the bikeway, said he is “grossly disappointed.”
“We are cable of doing better than that,” he said. “We have the will and the purpose” for such a project.
Rubenstein said he would like to get the funding to start building in 2024 with a project finish in 2025.
“That will still be 10 years,” he said. “But if we can accomplish that, I’d be very proud of our County Council.”
Rubenstein said at least two council members, Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4), whose district includes Olney, and Hans Riemer (D-At large) support funding earlier rather than later.
He is also hoping for state money.
Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Dist. 4) confirmed that the District 14 delegation is coordinating with the District 19 delegation to secure $1.5 million for the project “and feel very confident we will be successful.”
Right now, the Bowie Mill Road Bikeway Project would be a fully-separated, 3.3-mile bikeway connecting Route 108 to Muncaster Mill Road (Route 115).
When built, it would connect Olney Town Center with the Shady Grove Metro Station, and in its path would include two schools, the Intercounty Connector Trail and parks.
GOCA strongly supports a shared-use path that is physically separated from the roadway by a grassy median, curbs or a combination. It would be designed for all types of users, from children to seasoned cyclists.
The project also has the backing of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB), who sent a letter to county officials in February re-affirm its “strong support” for the project.
The letter reads: “Considering the unique and significant beneficial impact that the Bowie Mill Road Bikeway will provide in improving overall interconnectivity of our regional bikeway system, MCCAB encourages the Montgomery County Council to support earlier construction of this project, to the maximum extent that budgetary resources permit.”
MCCAB first wrote a letter of support in February 2016.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) also wrote to the council in February to express support for the project.
The letter states: “This statement of support is provided in recognition of the fact that the Bowie Mill Road Bikeway project will provide a safe and reliable connection between Olney’s 50,000+ residents, public schools, county parks and public transportation. Importantly, the Bowie Mill Road Bikeway will be accessible to all ages and abilities of riders, contribute to the county’s “Vision Zero” pedestrian fatality elimination program, and will benefit our environment by enabling residents to select alternatives to vehicular transportation. “
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