7:24 PM EDT, May 11, 2012
The town of Hancock will host one of two National Park Service open houses next week on a proposed extension of the Western Maryland Rail Trail.
The park service has prepared an environmental assessment for the extension of the rail trail from Pearre Station near Lock 56 in Washington County, Md., to the public access parking lot of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park near Paw Paw Tunnel in Morgan County, W.Va.
The first meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Hancock Town Hall, 126 W. High St.
A second meeting is scheduled for to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Paw Paw School, 60 Pirate Circle, Paw Paw, W.Va.
Park service planning staff will be on hand to answer questions at the meetings.
The environmental assessment looks at three alternatives for the project, one of which is the No Action Alternative, in which the extension would not be constructed, according to the project summary.
The other alternatives would construct a paved trail with shoulders, mainly along the former Western Maryland Railroad corridor and within the C&O Canal National Historical Park, the summary said.
Three other alternatives would extend the trail between 8.1 and 14.4 miles, the summary said. Within the alternatives, there are also options to either run the trail through, or build bypasses around, tunnels along the route that serve as habitat for a variety of bats.
The plan is open for public comment until June 1, according to the park service.
The environmental assessment plan may be reviewed at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/choh.
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