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Biking/hiking trail proposal gathering momentum in Jefferson County

March 05, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Shepherdstown (W.Va.) Town Recorder Lori Robertson stands along W.Va. 480, where she hopes to one day see a bike path.
By Richard F. Belisle/Reporter

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — In 2009, the Jefferson County Commission approved a  Shepherdstown Town Council request for $38,000 toward a $76,000 match needed to apply for a grant to build a half-mile biking/hiking path to Morgan’s Grove Park.

The grant was denied, but Shepherdstown is trying again.

The estimated cost of the project is $539,000. The town’s share is a 20 percent matching grant of $107,000. Last week, the Jefferson County Commission voted to give the town $75,000 toward the match, leaving the town’s share at $32,000, Town Recorder Lori Robertson said.

Robertson led the effort four years ago and is at the front of the new grant application.

“This is a good idea,” Commissioner Walter Pellish, who represents the Shepherdstown District, said after the commission’s vote. “It has the potential to be a catalyst to other things,” he said.

Robertson said the path would begin at Lowe Drive (the entrance to the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center) on W.Va. 480 south of town. It would proceed south along the west side of the road to the stoplight at the intersection of Morgan Grove Road. There, it would meet with an existing paved walkway/bikeway along the bypass to W.Va. 45.

“The path will be entirely in the county,” Robertson said. “The state (Division of Highways) owns a 13-foot right of way on both sides of the white lines along 480.”

A 5-foot-wide grass strip from the white line to the edge of the bike path would serve as a buffer between vehicle traffic and those using the path. The path would be 8 feet wide and paved, she said.

Access to Lowe Drive from the town line can be reached using a sidewalk on the east edge of Elmwood Cemetery. The sidewalk ends at a section of wide shoulder leading to Lowe Drive.

“It’s already safe for walkers and bikers,” Robertson said. “If the bike path is built, people would be able to get safely from town to Morgan’s Grove Park and to the path along the bypass.”

Robertson said she believes the town has a better chance at getting a grant this year.

“We have about 30 letters of support from citizens and businesses,” she said.

Del. Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, and state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley/Jefferson, support the plan, she said.

The deadline for filing the grant application is March 15.

Construction would involve moving utility poles and removing some trees along the proposed path, Robertson said.

Matthew Mullenax, a transportation planner with the Hagerstown-Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the grant comes from the federal Transportation Alternative Grant program. It will be allocated by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Robertson said.

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