In 1838, after the B&O connected DC and Baltimore, a line was built off of that line to Annapolis. It was to connect at Elkridge, MD but instead connected several mile south at a place that became Annapolis Junction. Nonetheless, the name Annapolis and Elk Ridge Railroad was kept. The railroad struggled somewhat, but was still in service in 1903 when it was purchased by the the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad. It was closed, electrified and in 1908 reopened
The WB&A eventually became a three line system created out of the A&ER, a new electric line between DC and Baltimore and in 1921, the Baltimore and Annapolis. Portions of the WB&A and the B&A now serve as part of the Baltimore light rail system, sections of both are used for rail trails (B&A and WB&A) and parts of the WB&A are now roads in and around DC and north of Odenton.
Under the WB&A the A&ER became the "South Shore" line. The Great Depression did the WB&A in. Most of it was removed in 1935. A short piece continued to serve Fort Meade, but it too was gone by 1981. Only a small section at the junction still remains.
In Annapolis, part of the ROW has been turned into the 2400 foot long Poplar Trail
Maryland plans to turn about half of the remaining ROW into a multi-use trail called the South Shore Trail.
In addition, the Annapolis Bicycle Transportation Committee recently completed its final report.
In November of 2007, Mayor Ellen Moyer appointed an ad hoc committee to develop a plan for bicycle transportation and the programs that will support enhanced use of alternative bicycle and scooter transportation.
Number 8 on their Super Top 10 list (A sort of Christmas Wish List) is extending the Poplar Trail east into Downtown and west to the Annapolis Mall which sits dead-center on the ROW. Though the committee agree that another route may be needed.
The Committee supports the City’s current plans to connect to the County’s trail system in Parole and the South Shore Trail via Admiral Drive, due to the unsafe conditions on West Street and Bestgate Road (County).
I don't think there's a finalized design or plan for the South Shore Trail, so I don't know how it will negotiate General's Highway, Annapolis Road or other places where the ROW has been built over (map).
So there are plans to build the trails on the ROW from the WB&A in Odenton - and the Odenton MARC station - to downtown Annapolis.
With Fort Meade experiencing massive growth due to the last round of BRAC, it would be smart to extend the trail west as part of their transit improvements. By taking it all the way to the western end at Annapolis Junction - and across the bridge over Dorsey Run photographed above - it would connect the base to both the Odenton and Savage MARC stations and allow for people to use a rail/bike commute.
On the east end, building on the southern end of the B&A line all the way to the Severn River, crossing it on a new bridge and then following the ROW to the existing B&A trail would improve connections between Annapolis and towns along the B&A trail. A bike/pedestrian bridge would be pretty expensive, but if done right would probably become one of the top public space in the city - the kind of place where people will hang out to watch the boats and people.
Little Rock built a new pedestrian bridge on top of a dam, the Pulaski County Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge, or more commonly the Big Dam Bridge (pictured), and it's been a wild success. Granted, they started with the Dam; but it - and the Junction Bridge Pedestrian Walkway, an old railroad bridge adapted a year later - have helped make Little Rock much more walkable and bikeable.
Top photo by Intersystem Concepts, Inc