Following the fall 2012 trail design unveiling by officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland and key U.S. federal agencies, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Gov. Martin O’Malley and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis announced the start of construction for the $22.1 million trail project.
This project across the District of Columbia and the Maryland line will deliver the missing link in the almost 70-mi. regional bicycle and pedestrian trail network.
By connecting Benning Road in the District with Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Bladensburg, Md., the four-mi. trail segment creates new connections between communities, the Anacostia River and its natural resources while enhancing recreational and educational opportunities for trail users.
At the same time, the trail increases accessibility to transit stations and makes bicycle commuting more attractive by reducing travel times by as much as 30 minutes.
“We are very excited to begin construction with our Maryland and federal partners and look forward to immense benefits this new trail will afford area residents and visitors,” said Gray. “This marks another milestone in our progress toward creating a world-class waterfront through the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative and achieving my Sustainable DC Plan goals of making the District the healthiest, greenest, most sustainable city in the country.”
The completion of this key link will provide greater access to almost 70 mi. of trails in Maryland and in the District Columbia. Within the District, the segment is part of the planned 28-mi. Anacostia Riverwalk Trail that will connect 16 waterfront neighborhoods to the Anacostia River, Southwest Waterfront, Nationals Park, Washington Navy Yard, RFK Stadium, National Arboretum, and other popular destinations. This new portion of the trail will link to more than 40 mi. of trails in Maryland that travel throughout the Anacostia River Tributary System and connect to numerous schools, businesses, libraries, museums, shopping centers and Metro and MARC transit stations. It will be managed by District Department of Transportation (DDOT), National Park Service and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
“Working together, we are delivering a top alternative transportation priority that will help residents in the Washington region get to jobs, entertainment, schools and businesses without getting in cars,” said O’Malley. “Our investment shows how the Cycle Maryland Initiative helps local jurisdictions make key connections and brings us closer to delivering an 800-mi. cohesive trail network across the state of Maryland. Beyond the health benefits, expanding biking and walking opportunities are fundamental to our ongoing efforts to support sustainable land-use patterns, protect the environment and meet our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.”
This $22.1 million four-mi. trail link is made possible through the local, state and federal partnership with: $4.7 million from the District of Columbia’s Highway Trust Fund, $3.9 million in additional District of Columbia local funds, $3.5 million from the Governor’s Cycle Maryland Bikeways Program through the Maryland Department of Transportation, and a $10 million U.S. Department of Transportation 2012 TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant and National Park Service land. In 2014, Maryland will provide an additional $16 million in reimbursable grant funding available for projects that enhance walking and biking.
“The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail helps to establish new connections between our urban national parks and the communities around them, creating new neighborhood access to active outdoor fun,” Jarvis said. “We believe that healthy parks and healthy people go hand-in-hand, and we are excited to complete this tangible community connection for transportation, fun and fitness.”
Home to more than 800,000 residents, 43 species of fish and more than 200 species of birds, the restoration of the Anacostia River Watershed and the development of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail has twice been identified as a priority project for the Obama Administration under the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. Both initiatives seek to reconnect Americans to the great outdoors and revitalize urban waterways in underserved communities across the country.
Over the next few weeks, initial work will consist of installing erosion and sediment controls and construction entrances, as well as some clearing work within the trail alignment. In May, the construction of the trail and additional trail structures will get under way throughout the project area. The trail project is scheduled to be open for hikers and bikers in Spring 2016.
“Maryland’s waterways and trail ways play a critical role in the health and well-being of our state, our environment and our economy,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“The Anacostia River Trail Network provides the Greater Washington community with access to safe and attractive trails for bikers, hikers and runners to travel around our region,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “For commuters, enthusiasts and tourists alike it will bring neighborhoods closer together while increasing accessibility to transit stations and take cars off our roads.”
The trail’s unique and varied design includes both paved 10- to 12-ft.-wide asphalt and concrete boardwalk sections that meander around trees and wetlands in the Aquatic Gardens and other National Park Service lands; sidewalks through the Mayfair and Parkside communities; and raised walkways and five bridges over Anacostia River tributaries as it passes between the District and Maryland near U.S. 50. Other trail partners include the U.S. Department of the Interior, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service and Prince George’s County (Maryland).
“The Anacostia Trail will not only provide a new transportation option for Marylanders who travel into the District of Columbia, it will also provide access to great recreation opportunities. This trail will improve the quality of life for many inner beltway communities,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.
This project also reflects a long-standing, successful partnership between the District of Columbia, Maryland and the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission - Prince George’s. The ultimate goal has been to build out the broader trail network and connect the Anacostia Tributary Trail network to the District’s Anacostia Riverwalk Initiative.
The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is one of a series of transportation, environmental, economic, community and recreation projects included in the District of Columbia’s larger Anacostia Waterfront Initiative (AWI). From the Tidal Basin to the city’s northeast border with Maryland, the 30-year, $10 billion AWI is transforming the shores of the Anacostia River into a world-class waterfront.