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Western Maryland Rail Trail to expand 4.5 miles

October 07, 2005|By TARA REILLY

WASHINGTONCOUNTY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Western Maryland Rail Trail is getting a little longer.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich announced in a written statement Thursday that the state Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources are planning to spend $5 million for a 4.5-mile extension of the trail.

The new section is planned to run between Pearre Station and Little Orleans, Md., with access to the 4,400-foot Indigo Tunnel, which was built in 1903, according to the statement.

Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said Thursday the approximately 22-mile trail runs from Big Pool through Hancock to Pearre Station.

"It's out in the beautiful country of Washington County ..." Flanagan said.

Flanagan discussed the trail's extension, which will be completed in conjunction with the National Park Service, during a meeting with the Washington County Commissioners.

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"So, these programs are very, very exciting because they add to your attractiveness as a tourist destination, which is already very strong," Flanagan said.

The paved Rail Trail - used for biking, hiking and walking - runs along the C&O Canal and Potomac River. It is managed by the Department of Natural Resources.

The Rail Trail opened in 1998 with a 10-mile segment from Big Pool to Hancock. The second phase, 10.3 miles, was completed in 2002 and runs from Hancock to the southern slope of Tonoloway Ridge.

The trail's third phase, 2.1 miles from Tonoloway Ridge to Pearre Station, opened in May.

"The trails that cross Maryland are state treasures," Ehrlich said in the statement. "Our trails not only enhance the quality of life for all Maryland citizens, they also attract hikers and bikers from around the country, boosting tourism and energizing the state's economy."

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