Pepco, Montgomery County Hold Ribbon Cutting for New Natural Surface Trail in North Potomac

Pepco, Montgomery County Hold Ribbon Cutting for New Natural Surface Trail in North Potomac

6-mile trail result of Exelon, Pepco merger, culminates year-long project

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Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett speaks during a ribbon cutting for a new, 6-mile natural surface trail in North Potomac.

Caitlynn Peetz

The first project resulting from a partnership between Pepco and Montgomery County was put on display Friday following nearly a year of work.

Montgomery Parks and Pepco held a ribbon cutting to commemorate the opening of a 6-mile natural surface trail in North Potomac, made possible by a unique collaboration between the utility company that serves Washington, D.C., and Maryland, Montgomery Parks and the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE).

Pepco owns the land and Montgomery Parks constructed the trail that runs under Pepco power lines and connects the Muddy Branch Stream Valley to South Germantown Recreational Park, home of the Maryland SoccerPlex. The Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, a nonprofit for bikers, is tabbed to maintain the trail. Pepco was required to allow trails to be built along its utility lines in the county as part of its merger with Chicago-based energy company Exelon, which was announced in 2014.

“Our company role, we firmly believe, goes beyond our daily duty to provide power … . Our responsibility is much broader,” Pepco CEO Dave Velazquez said during the ceremony, attended by more than 30 community members and county officials including Montgomery Parks Director Mike Riley, County Executive Ike Leggett, Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and others. “It means giving back to our communities where we live and work.”

Officials broke ground on the trail in January and residents have been traversing the path for months. But attendees of the Friday ribbon cutting took a “ceremonial first ride” to mark the official completion following a brief ceremony. Many people rode bikes, while others walked and admired what Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett called a “major success.”

County Council member Craig Rice said his home is near the end of the trail and he anticipates utilizing the new pathway with his wife and children. And while he voiced strong appreciation for the trail and partnership, he said he believes Friday’s trail opening sets the stage for more likeminded projects.

“We pride ourselves here in Montgomery County on being innovative, and this certainly is just that,” Rice said. “It’s an indication, I think, of more to come when it comes to Montgomery County doing all that it can to make Montgomery County one of the best places to live, work and play.”

Montgomery County Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson echoed Rice, but ventured further to acknowledge that Pepco’s trail simply adds to what is already a top-tier trail system in the county. He commended Montgomery Parks staff for not becoming complacent once the county had implemented a “decent” trail system, but rather looking for ways to continuously improve, ultimately leading to the Pepco trail.

“If you’re not thinking about how you’re going to get better, you’re probably getting worse,” Anderson said. “So I want to thank park staff for embracing the challenge of creating not just a good enough trail system, not just a great trail system, but what we want to be the best trail system in the entire country.”

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