Let’s walk, run or bicycle on the MA & PA Trail from Fallston to Forest Hill.
The back story:
The MA and PA Trail (MPT) currently consists of a 3.3-mile section in Bel Air and a 1.7-mile segment in Forest Hill. The Harford County Department of Parks & Recreation has long expected to connect these two trail segments and create a trail that extends from Fallston to Forest Hill. In fact, when the Hickory Bypass was constructed, the County included a walking tunnel underneath the road.
In the last 10 years, the County has secured all property rights of way with the exception of an approximately 200-yard long piece of land that is behind a property located at 440 Franklin St. in Bel Air. The Harford Sanitation Company formerly occupied this site.
Although the former HHS owners have sold the business, they continue to own the land. County and MA & PA Trail representatives have met with the family representatives on several occasions, looking for a mutually beneficial way to purchase or otherwise obtain the rights to the land so that the trail project can move forward. Currently, no resolution of this issue has been reached.
Alternatives: The Board of Directors of the MA & PA Heritage Trail have been included in discussions with Harford County Department of Parks & Recreation and the Town of Bel Air about possible alternative ways to connect these two trail segments. We are optimistic that there is a solution.
According to Harford County Department of Parks & Recreation, a feasibility study (required) would cost approximately $300,000. The cost for trail construction is approximately $1 million per mile. The county expects to have funds to pay for planning a trail connection money in FY 2012. At this time, there is no appropriated money for trail construction.
Harford County and Town of Bel Air officials are both very interested in seeing the trail completed. The MPT is the most heavily used park in the county.There are numerous trail supporters including over 100 members and 1160+ Facebook.
An eight-mile trail will serve as a tremendous tourism resource and help Harford County attract local as well as regional visitors. These visitors will bring revenue by spending money on gasoline, food and by visiting other local tourism attractions. The completed trail will serve as an added boon to the newly designated Arts & Entertainment district in downtown Bel Air.
The MA & PA Heritage Trail is in the midst of an educational and awareness campaign to inform people about the issues that surround this trail connection and to gather support for this connection.
We also plan to continue a petition to gauge citizen interest in seeing the trails connected in any way possible.
What you can do:
2. Sign our petition and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same.
3. Become a member of the MA & PA Heritage Trail.
4. Join our mailing list.
5. Show your support. Visit the trails often!