February 2, 1012
Pols magic act… disappearing trails!

Do you ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

It’s little wonder that supporters of the Capital Crescent Trail continue to be more than a little suspicious of the failed trail promises made by a long line of Maryland politicians.

First it was the trail planned alongside the Intercounty Connector (State Route 200). The road project cost $2.6 billion, yet there was never enough money to build the trail, except for a very short section. Someday they may find the money. But don’t bet on it. And the tiny part that was built, well, it’s not pretty (see the photo below).

This year, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett eliminated funding for the planned Metropolitan Branch Trail between Silver Spring and the District. Local bike activists are shocked (shocked, I tell you). Wrote one “For a county that sells itself as environmentally conscious and progressive, this decision is nothing short of a betrayal.” As if it hadn’t happened before.

What’s next? This: the county council, which already pulled a fast one to amend its master plan to allow a double-tracked light rail line on the site of the Capital Crescent Trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring is fixing to renege on its promise to maintain the trail’s current passage through the Wisconsin Avenue tunnel. It just costs “too much” to squeeze the trail and two rail lines in the space. Of course, the original plan was for a trail and a single trolley line, but that was reneged upon long ago. “We’re going to make the Capital Crescent Trail better,” said Governor O’Malley two years ago. Better than what?

When it comes to promises about trails, the state’s politicians – full of happy talk one day and no money the next – haven’t delivered.

The small section of the ICC bike path is a shade-less strip of asphalt. So too will be the Capital Crescent Trail if the Purple Line is ever built.