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by Judith Hruz
The long-awaited efforts of the community to construct a bike path connecting Route 108 in Olney to the Shady Grove Metro Station are on track to be funded if the County Council approves recommendations made by the county executive last month.
In his recently release $5.4 billion Recommended Fiscal Year 2024 Capital Budget and Amended FY23-28 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), County Executive Marc Elrich includes $12,905,000 in funds for the Bowie Mill Bikeway, starting with $750,000 in fiscal 2023, the current year, and $1,120,000 in fiscal 2024, which begins July 1.
Those two expenditures are for planning, design and supervision.
In fiscal 2025, the project calls for $375,000 for planning, design and supervision and $150,000 for land.
In fiscal 2026, the project calls for $465,000 for land and $200,000 for site improvements and utilities.
In fiscal 2027, the project calls for $466,000 for land and $179,000 for site improvements and utilities.
And in fiscal 2028, the project calls for $1,072,000 for planning design and supervision; $2,317,000 for site improvements and utilities, and $5,801,000 for construction
Beyond the six years, an additional $7,801,000 will be needed.
“The Olney community is incredibly grateful to all of our elected officials for working in the spirit of cooperation to identify a fiscally sustainable path forward for funding the planning and construction of the Bowie Mill Road Bikeway over the next six years,” said Danny Rubenstein, who has championed the Bowie Mill Bikeway Project for nine years. “Importantly, and for the first time since this project began, we now have a specific target date for completion — a metric for progress by which we can all hold ourselves accountable.”
Rubenstein has said that constructing the path is a smart move, “particularly for a project that aligns so closely with county’s goals,” such as Vision Zero, environmental alternatives, and equity and access.
Funding to build the path had been scheduled in Fiscal Year 2028, meaning the project would not have been finished until fiscal 2029 – some 15 years after it was first proposed.
But after some ups and downs during the Montgomery County budget discussion last year, and judging by Elrich’s proposed funding schedule submitted to the County Council on Jan. 17, that has changed.
When the funding seemed in doubt last year, Sen. Craig Zucker, Del. Eric Luedtke and other members of the District 14 legislative team “stepped up when it counted and helped make sure the county put the finish line for this project on the map, both financially and literally,” Rubenstein said last year.
Last year, Luedtke said the District 14 team discussed obtaining state funding if the county accelerated the project by one year. But then the project was pushed back one year.
Luedtke called convincing the county to fund the project earlier rather than later “a big win.”
Rubenstein, who is the Greater Olney Civic Association’s special projects coordinator for the bikeway, also thanked GOCA for its support on the project.
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 Greater Olney Civic Association appreciates the State of Maryland for contributing funding at a critical moment to help keep the project on track and moving forward, as well as the statement of commitment from the Montgomery County Council to continue to look for future opportunities to accelerate the project,” Rubenstein said. “We look forward to supporting the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and others as planning proceeds.
“Most importantly, we can now begin to focus our attention on the day when residents of all ages and abilities can connect to our neighboring communities, schools, parks and public transportation in a safe and reliable manner.”
Right now, the Bowie Mill Road Bikeway Project would be a fully-separated, 3.5-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.
To see the complete Recommended FY24 Capital Budget and Amended FY23-28 Capital Improvements Program, go to https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/omb/publications.html.
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