Efforts Underway to Connect the BWI Trail to the Gwynns Falls Trail

| December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

MedStar Harbor Hospital, Greater Baybrook Alliance (GBA), and South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP) are teaming up on an effort to connect the BWI Trail in Anne Arundel County to the Gwynns Falls Trail in Baltimore City. The Gwynns Falls Trail currently ends just south of MedStar Harbor Hospital’s Cherry Hill Campus and a spur of the BWI Trail currently ends at W. Maple Rd. near N. Camp Mead Rd. in Linthicum Heights.

The organizations received a $500,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development for a 30% engineering design of the trail. Ryan Moran, MedStar’s Director of Community Health for Baltimore City, told SouthBMore.com a 30% engineering design is required to apply for construction grants.

The engineering design process will determine the route of the trail and where construction would occur, as well as study traffic patterns. There will be a community engagement process during the engineering design. The engineering design will begin in January and take about 18 months.

Moran said the goal of the connection between the two trails is for recreation and bike commuting. He noted 50% of households in Cherry Hill and 33% in Curtis Bay do not have access to a car. This is higher than the 29% city-wide average and 6.1% in Federal Hill.

Moran said the grant proposals presented points of improvement for the trail connection. They include resident access to Middle Branch Park and its 11 miles of shoreline; access to the soon-to-be renovated Reedbird Park; closing the gap between the Gwynns Falls Trail and BWI Trail; improving access to the Patapsco Light Rail Station; increasing economic activity in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Park, and Cherry Hill; creating opportunities to access care at MedStar Harbor Hospital; and to foster a community culture of health and outdoor recreation.

GBA Executive Director Meredith Chaiken told SouthBMore.com the trail connection would be a huge boon to the area and the unified system of trails will attract tourists.

The gap between the two trails is about 4.5 miles. While a route for the trail will be studied and has not been determined, a connection would likely go through Pumphrey, Brooklyn Park, and Brooklyn before connecting in Cherry Hill. The BWI Trail is connected to the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail that travels south to Annapolis along the former Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad tracks.

The Broadneck Peninsula Trail in Arnold and Annapolis is being constructed in phases and will eventually connect the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail to Sandy Point State Park next to the Bay Bridge.

The Gwynns Falls Trail currently travels from Cherry Hill to the Inner Harbor and runs west through Carroll Park and west through Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park.

If the connection is made between the BWI Trail and Gwynns Falls Trail, a cyclist would be able to ride a trail entirely from Baltimore to Annapolis and Baltimore to Sandy Point State Park, as well as to the Bay Bridge when the Broadneck Peninsula Trail is completed.

Additional improvements to the Gwynns Falls Trail are eyed as the Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT) is partnering with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Baltimore Greenway Trails Network, and SBGP to “establish a better connection between the Middle Branch trail and the Inner Harbor.” This connection, which is also part of the Gwynns Falls Trail, would go through Sharp and Stockholm Streets in Stadium Area and Solo Gibbs Park in Sharp-Leadenhall. This effort received a $250,000 federal grant last year.

The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) in partnership with Topgolf and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore owners CBAC will begin renovating a park early next year that is along the Gwynns Falls Trail. The park is behind the casino garage and on the Ridgely’s Cove waterfront.

The Gwynns Falls Trail was also expanded in recent weeks along Key Hwy. adjacent to Rash Field as part of the reconstruction plans for the Key Hwy. and Light St. intersection. This expansion connects to a new Covington Street Cycle Track which travels from the Inner Harbor to Riverside Park.

SBGP, Parks and People Foundation, and the City of Baltimore announced in July that Dutch architecture firm West 8 won the Middle Branch Waterfront Design competition to lead planning for a phased, multi-year design and construction project for the 11-mile-plus park system along the shoreline of the Patapsco River in South Baltimore. West 8’s design competition proposal added a trail system looping around the Middle Branch and into Ridgely’s Cove with new pedestrian bridges and new marshlands adjacent to each shoreline. The plan also converts the Spring Gardens Swing Bridge into a pedestrian bridge.

Screenshot courtesy of Google Maps showing a bike route (not a trail) between the end of the BWI Trail spur in Linthicum Heights and Medstar Harbor Hospital in Cherry Hill where the Gwynns Falls Trail ends. 

Picture from last year of the Gwynns Falls Trail on MedStar Harbor Hospital’s campus

Gwynns Falls Trail adjacent to the Horseshoe Casino Garage. This park space will be renovated next year. 

Expansion of the Gwynns Falls Trail adjacent to Rash Field

Photo of the new Covington Street Cycle Track 

Photos of West 8’s display boards in the Middle Branch Waterfront Design competition  (click to enlarge)

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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