Over the last twenty-three years in Frederick County, seventeen pedestrians have been in a fatal automobile accident. Members of the Frederick County Board of Transportation have recognized the need for safer means of transportation for pedestrians, and have issued the building of a new path connecting Walkersville and Frederick. Some local residents argue the $208,000 granted for the construction could be used for a better path.
The new path, referred to as the “Pennsylvania & Frederick Railroad Trail,” will follow along the side of the Walkersville Southern Railroad tracks. Joe Kelley, Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for Frederick County commented that, “this trail will connect to Heritage Farm Park on Devilbiss Bridge Road linking the entire Walkersville community to schools, parks and to the City of Frederick with a safe route for all users.” The “Pennsylvania & Frederick Railroad Trail” would offer a safe route, not near any major roads.
The trail is part of the Bikeways and Trail Plans finalized by Frederick County in 2018. The Trail transitions from an on-street or side path on East Street in Frederick to an off-street multi-use trail from 8th Street following the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks to Woodsboro. The City of Frederick portion would use the old railroad bed to just north of MD 26. From there, it will be located along the existing tracks which are still used by the Walkersville Southern Railroad.
The biggest issues will be crossing Tuscarora Creek and the Monocacy River. The existing bridge across the Monocacy River currently provides passage for trains, and not pedestrians or bicyclists.
One-hundred years ago on October 23, 1919, two boys attempted to cross this bridge on foot, but fell when a train met them as they were half-way across the bridge. Charles Rice, then eight years of age, died from the fall. His seven year old brother, Delman, survived the fall with serious injuries, according to newspaper accounts at the time.
Walkersville High School math teacher Jonathan Newman rides his bike to school everyday along MD 194, and has his own opinion. “So one thing is that the bike lane ‘comes and goes,’ it gets replaced by a turn lane at times, which can be dangerous, especially just south of the high school where it becomes a ‘passing lane’ and is very dangerous if anyone is turning. Ideally the bike path would be separate from the road, maybe 10-20 yards away from the highway. But that’s in an ideal world and farmers would lose too much land for that to be a reality. I do appreciate how most of the time the lane is plenty wide, I’m just concerned that one day it’ll get expanded to a 4-lane highway and the bike lane will get removed.”
“We are aware of the need to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities along MD 194 in the Walkersville area. Improvements to MD 194 including sidewalks has been part of the county’s annual priority letter that we submit to Maryland Department of Transportation each year. As part of this process the State uses these letters along with those from the other counties and the City of Baltimore to determine which projects will get funded in the future,” Kelley explains.