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WB&A Trail Pax River Bridge Crossing to Join PG & AA Co Trail Sections

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WB&A Trail Pax River Bridge Crossing to Join PG & AA Co Trail Sections

Old 07-08-23, 09:05 PM
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WB&A Trail Pax River Bridge Crossing to Join PG & AA Co Trail Sections

The bridge to join the PG & AA county individual sections of the WB&A trail into one continuous trail is scheduled to be completed this summer (summer 2023). I took a look at the bridge the other day. See photo from 7/5/2023 below. Photo taken from PG Co side looking across Patuxent River over onto Anne Arundel Co side. If they are going to finish it on schedule looks like they need to speed it up. Seems the concrete bridge pillars/supports have been poured. But none of the horizontal decking is in place.

Anyone aware of the actual "current" schedule to open up the bridge to join the two trail segments?


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Old 07-09-23, 09:15 AM
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I read the sign on the Anne Arundel sign some weeks ago and it said the opening would be in September. Iím sure we riders will know when it will be as the counties will be sure to make it the big deal that it is.
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Old 07-09-23, 12:50 PM
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Thanks! No signage that I saw on PG Co side. But, yes, it has been a long time in the works. So they will make a big deal once it's open.
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Old 07-10-23, 08:03 AM
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Wonder why they decided to make the bridge so wide. Probably the majority of the cost to make it so big.
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Old 07-10-23, 01:23 PM
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Wow, how did you get back there? Big gates and "No Trespassing" signs. Regardless, thanks for posting the photo.

PG-side WB&A is my go-to ride, I live 1.5 miles from the other end. I've been trying to dialogue with both PG and AA counties on this, the former does not respond, the latter polite but "check our Facebook page for updates". Ugh, I missed the groundbreaking and will probably miss the grand opening.
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Old 07-10-23, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by tiger1964
Wow, how did you get back there? Big gates and "No Trespassing" signs. Regardless, thanks for posting the photo.
We actually parked at the Amtrak parking lot right near Bowie St Univ and walked down Lemons Bridge Rd, crossed under the RR tracks and came in through the woods. IOW, we came in not by way of the bike trail. I wanted to get the dog out for a long walk. We walked to the first bridge headed toward the WSSC pumping station and then we turned back at that point for the car.
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Old 07-11-23, 05:23 AM
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That will make for a nice 30 mile out and back from the north end - great to finally see!

I guess the counties are still in the exploration phase of replacing the Governor's Bridge Road Bridge that has been closed since 2015? That used to allow me to avoid the Rt. 214 bridge on some loops I do.
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Old 07-11-23, 06:18 AM
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My understanding is that the actual decking, the bridge sections, are to be pre-fab so completing the bridge could be very fast.

Originally Posted by morsetaper2
We actually parked at the Amtrak parking lot right near Bowie St Univ and walked down Lemons Bridge Rd, crossed under the RR tracks and came in through the woods. IOW, we came in not by way of the bike trail. I wanted to get the dog out for a long walk. We walked to the first bridge headed toward the WSSC pumping station and then we turned back at that point for the car.
OK, I checked it out on Google Maps; in 67 years here I've never to to/near what was once Bowie State Teachers' College. No idea what's back there.

Originally Posted by jpescatore
That will make for a nice 30 mile out and back from the north end - great to finally see!
I'll be going the other way -- I'll try to remember to wave or at least nod. At least the north end has a couple of dining choices. I cannot recommend anything at the south end (OK, there's a new WaWa).

Originally Posted by jpescatore
I guess the counties are still in the exploration phase of replacing the Governor's Bridge Road Bridge that has been closed since 2015? That used to allow me to avoid the Rt. 214 bridge on some loops I do.
It amazes me still how few places there are to cross the Patuxent River. I have a long-time cycling friend who lives near the AA County end of that bridge, visiting for rides would be easier if they reopened it. I crossed it once, walking the bike, after the closure. I do NOT recommend that.

Well, gotta go, getting ready for a morning ride -- on the WB&A.
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Old 07-17-23, 03:23 PM
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Glad to see this project finally getting done. It has been on the books for almost 2 decades.
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Old 07-17-23, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by tiger1964
<snip> OK, I checked it out on Google Maps; in 67 years here I've never to to/near what was once Bowie State Teachers' College. No idea what's back there.
I grew up in Bowie, grad HS in 1977. Back in the day we had all kinds of field parties back off Lemons Bridge Rd and behind the college. And we rode dirt bikes back there as well. So I have some "local knowledge" of the area from back in the day. Lemons Bridge Rd is an old dirt road that's still pretty well defined. Goes back as far where it goes under the RR tracks. Its gated up by the train parking lot so you cannot drive in. Back in the day, before it was gated, we'd drive our parents cars all the way down to where the road goes under the tracks to have our parties. You could ride a MTB bike back in there but it generally has lots of wet spots. Unless its been dry for an extended period. Especially on all the splinter trails that lead from Lemons Bridge Rd. Def low marshland, lots of bugs & mosquitos. Had the dog with me and he didn't get too muddy. However I carried him through the muddiest sections. Found two turtles while I was back there.





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Old 07-20-23, 05:59 AM
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On youtube their are several 3-4 min videos of drone footage over the the bridge construction site starting back in 2022. Search youtube for "WB&A Bridge" and you will find them. This one below is the most recent and is from June 2023. The state of construction in the video appears to be the same as the photo in post #1. You can see the river currently has a main channel and a second smaller channel they are running through a pipe which will likely be removed after construction completes. Looks like the pipe is there to allow people and equipment to move back and forth over the smaller channel.

The bridge is wide & long as the river floods often. I used to live in Overbrook. Which is a section of Bowie that backs up to the old racetrack property. As a kid I knew all the woods, trails, and roads back there when I was growing up riding bicycles & dirt bikes back in those woods. I remember when their used to be a one lane dirt road bridge road crossing over the river into AA county adjacent to/behind the old racetrack. Not referring to the old RR bridge behind the pumping station at the end of the "original trail". That was a RR bridge. I used to ride my bicycles & dirt bikes across the road bridge into AA county. The road bridge survived hurricane Agnes flooding, but was taken down by the state a few years later as it was old & deteriorated.

Hurricane Agnes (1972) really flooded the Patuxent River. I remember the gas stations that were at the corner of 450/301 were mostly underwater. After the water receded I remember seeing trash & debris stuck in the in the trees indicating how high the water rose. There used to be a sawmill back behind the Shell station. The sawmill was gone after the flooding.


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Old 07-24-23, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by fdmille
Wonder why they decided to make the bridge so wide. Probably the majority of the cost to make it so big.
Probably to accommodate emergency vehicles.

My employer donated an abandoned railroad drawbridge that was to be removed and replaced with a trail bridge. It had to be wide and strong enough to accommodate emergency vehicles. As long as youíre not adding things like extra supports and piers for a wider bridge, the additional cost is probably not significant in the grand scheme of things.
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Old 07-25-23, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Probably to accommodate emergency vehicles.
Makes sense, except it appears in the pictures to be wider than the trail that leads to it, at least on the PG side?
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Old 07-25-23, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by tiger1964
Makes sense, except it appears in the pictures to be wider than the trail that leads to it, at least on the PG side?
Which would make sense. A new bridge is going to have raised barriers/railings on the sides, making extra space for vehicles to open doors necessary. And trail users cannot simply pull off to the side of a narrower bridge to allow for the passage of vehicles. Finally, while I am not an engineer, a wider bridge possibly distributes the load of a vehicle better. I work with a lot of engineers. Functional design elements are rarely, if ever, included just for the hell of it.
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Old 07-25-23, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Which would make sense. A new bridge is going to have raised barriers/railings on the sides, making extra space for vehicles to open doors necessary. And trail users cannot simply pull off to the side of a narrower bridge to allow for the passage of vehicles. Finally, while I am not an engineer, a wider bridge possibly distributes the load of a vehicle better. I work with a lot of engineers. Functional design elements are rarely, if ever, included just for the hell of it.
Fair enough. And I keep encountering MTB's with those 80cm wide bars on the trail (my road bikes have mostly 40cm) so a little extra room is welcome!
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Old 09-05-23, 09:09 AM
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I've been trying to locate current info on Facebook, so no avail; it's now September. I'd certainly hope to find out and opening date and/or opening ceremony for the bridge.
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Old 09-06-23, 10:20 PM
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In post #11 above, I mentioned an old rickety wooden one-lane bridge dirt road across the Patuxent River back by the Bowie Racetrack I remembered from years back. I got to thinking about that and spent some time googling to see if I could uncover any references to, or old photos of that bridge. No old photos, but did find some references to it. I think it was called "Bealmears Bridge". I found a USGS topographic map from 1969 that clearly shows the bridge and it's connection across the river from the back side of the Bowie Racetrack to Meyers Station Road on AA Co side. I remember it as a double-track dirt/gravel road. On google-maps, you can see a trace of the old dirt rode on the AA Co side of the river (I added a series of red dots to highlight the old road). But no trace visible on the PG Co side leading to the site of the old single lane bridge from racetrack property.

And from the google map, I can make out what looks the remains of a trestle bridge (w/ rails & ties) still remaining in the woods over Horsepen Branch (red circle). I think this is the trestle shown in a ground level photo in the Link Below. This would have been on the spur line that took trains to and from from the "Y" intersection off the main line into the racetrack. The "Y" location would have been SW (left & down) of the current location of the WSSC pumping station of google map. You can clearly see the "Y" and the old rail lines on the topo map. On the AA Co side, topo map shows the railbed of the main line, but no rails indicated. Rails on that side must have been removed when the topo map was produced in 1969.

See this webpage for details relating to the WB&A RR's main line and the ""Y" line into the racetrack: https://www.trainweb.org/oldmainline/brt1.htm

I'll have to take the dog back in there and see if anything remains of the old bridge over the river and have a closer look at that trestle bridge. You can park in Saddlebrook Park and walk onto the racetrack property easily enough. I explored the racetrack and the old grandstand area last summer with the dog.

On a sad note, the body of Donna Dustin (17 yo from Bowie) was discovered in the woods a short distance over that bridge on the AA Co side by hunters in 1973. The murder still remains unsolved.





Zoom in at trestle bridge remains? @ the red circle in the larger pic above:



Full image of 1969 topographic map can be found HERE.


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Old 10-11-23, 01:07 PM
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Went down from the AA side today, the pavement is so broken (by equipment?) I suspect all will need to be repaved. I found THIS on Facebook from AA county: "The contractor for the WB&A Trail Bridge over the Patuxent River has been on hold since May 2023 because Federal funding of the project, which is critical to its success, requires reviews and approvals of the manufacturing process prior to the bridge being fabricated. However, the bridge was fabricated before these reviews/approvals occurred without the knowledge of the County or State. Since May, the County, contractor, and manufacturer have been working with the SHA divisions responsible for this review and approval to identify a solution while salvaging as much of the work that was done as possible. We believe we are now nearing an agreement, and hope to be able to receive permission to continue construction sometime in November 2023. Depending on the weather, the project could be completed about 3 months after we are able to restart construction."

Yeah, it does not look promising right now:

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Old 10-12-23, 04:47 AM
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Maybe by next spring?
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Old 10-22-23, 11:13 AM
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Wb&a bridge construction. On hold

As you know, all work on this project was put on hold for 6 months (starting last May). So completion by today is a distant memory. THANKS for the update on the federal regulatory snafoo that put the project on hold. After bridge construction gets underway, they still have to create a brand new 1 mile of bike path (over the former destroyed bike path). So lots to do. Maybe by Spring??
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Old 10-24-23, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore
Maybe by next spring?
Originally Posted by Cmkoplik
Maybe by Spring??
That would be nice, no idea. I wonder if the repaving is a significant part of what's left to do? One might conclude that a mile of bike path takes less work/time/money than a mile of car-capable road, but that's conjecture on my part. I have not been there but the blocked-off part of the PG-side "spur" might also be in poor shape unless all access by equipment have been via unpaved trails behind the college? Not a fan of the chosen contractor, regardless.
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Old 10-25-23, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by tiger1964
That would be nice, no idea. I wonder if the repaving is a significant part of what's left to do? One might conclude that a mile of bike path takes less work/time/money than a mile of car-capable road, but that's conjecture on my part. I have not been there but the blocked-off part of the PG-side "spur" might also be in poor shape unless all access by equipment have been via unpaved trails behind the college? Not a fan of the chosen contractor, regardless.
The path down on the AA side is destroyed. Ok on gravel bike but not road bikes. It will need to be redone. Friends of AA Trails said by end of year but 3 months after assembly of bridge would be more like February. So with weather likely being a factor, and re-paving AA side, I would think late spring like June
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Old 10-26-23, 05:13 AM
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Originally Posted by jvoshell
The path down on the AA side is destroyed. Ok on gravel bike but not road bikes.
Agreed. I was on 700Cx28mm, not fun. Anyone get a close look at the PG side conditions?
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Old 10-26-23, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by tiger1964
Agreed. I was on 700Cx28mm, not fun. Anyone get a close look at the PG side conditions?

latest update from Friends of Anne Arundel CO Trail.:

Hi, Jim -- I have more recent info on the bridge. The county is now saying it could be February before the bridge is completed and opened. Sorry. Know you are anxious.

Diane R. Evans
President, FOAACT
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Old 01-14-24, 03:55 PM
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Bridge connecting WB&A Trail

No progress on the bridge since May 2023 and it's now mid-January. It would be unfortunate for Anne Arundel to cancel this major bikeway connector project after millions spent (and a couple miles of the trail destroyed). But we can hope it will be resurrected. Does anyone have news? The county is very silent.
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