CARPENDALE – The success of Carpendale's Knobley Tunnel has led to expansion plans for a trail through Ridgeley and into Cumberland where it would tie into the other end of the tunnel.
By Ronda Wertman
CARPENDALE – The success of Carpendale’s Knobley Tunnel has led to expansion plans for a trail through Ridgeley and into Cumberland where it would tie into the other end of the tunnel.
Holding a town hall meeting in Carpendale in preparation for the upcoming session, area legislators took a closer look at the proposed trail, which is a joint effort with Carpendale, Ridgeley, Cumberland and Department of Natural Resources officials.
As Delegates Gary Howell and Ruth Rowan and Senators Craig Blair and Charles Trump sat in the Carpendale Town Hall, mayor Casey Lambert explained that the new trail would go behind the building to the railroad tracks into Ridgeley, across the Blue Bridge and over to Cumberland where it would hook into the Canal Trail and come back to Carpendale’s Knobley Tunnel.
“We’re getting a lot of help,” said Lambert, noting that Chad Thompson of the Department of Environmental Protection has been working on designing the project. “The only thing that could hold us up is CSX,” Lambert said.
Howell added that both Carpendale and Ridgeley are working closely on this.
He noted that, with the trail access, the Department of Natural Resources would put a boat ramp into the river. He explained that at one time there was access from the Maryland side, but when the flood control project was put in, it blocked the access.
Estimates put 50,000 people a year using the five-mile trail, which would be the site for many day trips.
“It’s amazing how many people use that tunnel,” said Lambert, adding that they are looking at changing to LED lighting. “It still needs more light.”
“It’s unique,” said Howell, noting some “pretty cool views” from the bridge over the Potomac River.
He also noted that the 100-year-old tunnel features flow stone.
“We put a lot of money in to that,” said Lambert of the $200,000 Rails to Trails project through the Transportation Enhancement program.