The Town of Williamsport will use a $10,000 state grant to create a 1.3-mile circuit of bike lanes on town streets, with enough funding expected to be left to mark South Conococheague Street for cyclists down to a new park-and-ride lot to be built near the Interstate 81/Md. 68 interchange, Town Clerk Donald Stotelmyer said.
Bicyclists should have more designated paths on Williamsport streets by this summer, Stotelmyer said.
Construction work for a park-and-ride lot, which includes adjusting an interstate ramp and widening Md. 68, is expected to begin in midsummer, weather and scheduling permitting, so the project could be done by spring 2014, according to an email from State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar.
The park-and-ride project will cost an estimated $2 million to $3 million, Gischlar said.
By refreshing existing bike lane markings on Potomac Street and creating a bike lane for a circuit around the town’s center, town officials want to further encourage cyclists from the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park towpath to ride around town and, hopefully, patronize local businesses and establishments, Stotelmyer said.
Local businesses already have experienced increased business since the town added bike lanes in both directions on Potomac Street, Stotelmyer said. Those lanes opened in June 2010, according to Herald-Mail archives.
The new bike circuit would provide a marked lane for cyclists to get from the towpath at the Cushwa Basin to Byron Memorial Park and Riverbottom Park, Stotelmyer said.
Stotelmyer said he believes there will be enough funds left after creating the 1.3-mile circuit so, at least, bike markings on Conococheague Street can be refreshed and additional markings added on South Conococheague Street to designate a route to the new park-and-ride lot.
The park-and-ride lot will be built between southbound I-81, Md. 68, and the ramp from eastbound Md. 68 to southbound I-81, according to a diagram Gischlar provided.
The project also includes realigning a different ramp — the one from southbound I-81 to eastbound Md. 68 so drivers can cross Md. 68 to enter the parking lot, he said. There is a single ramp from southbound I-81 to Md. 68, which forks at the end. The fork to westbound Md. 68 is expected to remain open during construction, while the fork to eastbound Md. 68 might be temporarily closed or narrowed during construction, Gischlar said.
Also, a left-turn lane from westbound Md. 68 into the park-and-ride lot will be added, Gischlar said.
The state highway’s shoulders will be widened to provide space for bicyclists along eastbound Md. 68 and the park-and-ride lot will have bike racks, Gischlar said. The parking lot will have 49 parking spaces for passenger vehicles and nine spaces for tractor-trailers, he said. There aren’t many spaces in that area now for truck drivers to stop and rest, he said.
Stotelmyer said the 1.3-mile bike lane will run from the Cushwa Basin, by the towpath, up Potomac Street and through Byron Memorial Park. From the park the path will run south on Church Street and onto Commerce Street, so riders can take the path back to the towpath or stop at Riverbottom Park off Salisbury Street, he said.
While Potomac Street will continue to have a bike lane in each direction, the rest of the streets and the park will have a single bike lane, Stotelmyer said.
Stotelmyer said the county’s public works department is looking at whether South Conococheague Street is wide enough to add a bike lane. If not, Stotelmyer said, pavement markings on that street indicating vehicular drivers should share the road with cyclists will be extended south to the park and ride, he said.
Currently, commuters are parking in a dirt area off Md. 68, near the interchange.
The $10,000 grant the town received came from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Bikeways Program.