4 months later, Laurel Grove is still closed — along with lost treed trails and lane barriers

• A state Department of Transportation highway is being renovated, and some sections of hiking trail are being excavated. At least one section of the trail had to be permanently closed. • The area…

4 months later, Laurel Grove is still closed — along with lost treed trails and lane barriers

• A state Department of Transportation highway is being renovated, and some sections of hiking trail are being excavated. At least one section of the trail had to be permanently closed.

• The area where the trail goes from the foothills to the city has transformed from a rural area filled with wildlife into a heavily developed area.

• Its closure has resulted in the loss of two treed trails, one trail that is more than a mile long, and now trails that are shorter.

• Vehicles are now more prone to leaving partially or completely blocked traffic signals, hindering people walking their dogs.

• Between the trails being closed and the increased traffic, trail users now encounter barriers and man-made objects that interrupt their trails.

• “A lot of trails have totally disappeared,” said Laurel Grove senior forest ranger Majestic Dalata. “And the ones that are there no longer look like the trails they used to be.”

• Until the trail renovations were done, Laurel Grove was essentially a mountain range and hikers could walk from one side to the other. Since then, people have had to go through two man-made railroad curves or enter the trail from the city, which jacks up the price of trail entry.

• “It’s disappointing to see them take all that space out of the area to do all that stuff,” said Frank Goostrey, a sophomore at Montgomery College. “It’s essentially cutting out the heart of Laurel Grove.”

• Now most hikers ride their bikes through the trail, especially during spring and summer months when the weather is warmer. “It’s a lot quicker and you don’t have to worry about closing roads,” said Audrey Wyatt, a water skier who uses the trail to commute from Rockville to Rockville.

• Achieving the “Douglass objective” was originally meant to include building a new water tower, a road, and a bridge. Over the past decade, local residents have sometimes held protests over the missing amenities.

• While residents will not be without access to water for the next eight years, they will have to spend more money to refill it if rain events continue to cause water to run off.

• Even with the amount of improvements, people are now complaining about construction surrounding the trail. Laurel Grove residents have complained to Metro transit police about signs letting hikers know that the trail is closed and more than one has reported incidents of vandalism.

• Once the trail reopened after the highway project, a light pole was knocked over and started a fire. In addition, Metro has reported “numerous” signs on the trail that were damaged.

• When the mountainside that the trail overlooks was paved in the 1950s, a large number of small boulders were disturbed. Metro launched a project to not only remedy the problems with the boulders but also fix the holes created by them.

• Clark Bowman, a 21-year-old member of Metro’s hockey team, was also killed while biking on the trail.

• It may not look like it, but the road that Laurel Grove’s Pittsboro Rd. runs over is supposed to be improved. A Department of Transportation official said that he expects the road to be closed by late September for its reconstruction.

For many, though, the trail is still marked with a warning on its southern slope: “US Route 301 begins on the right. This may turn into a serious crash.”

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