Ongoing Plans to Complete Trolley Trail, but Barriers Stand in the Way

Progress on the incomplete sections of the Trolley Trail are slowly moving forward, but some major roadblocks could significantly delay the day that we see a complete trail extending from the Berwyn neighborhood to the Northwest Branch Trail near Route 1 in Hyattsville. Because the trail runs through portions of College Park, Riverdale Park, and Hyattsville, there are a number of entities fumbling through the funding, design, and construction process. Following is an update on each of the incomplete sections. The Google Map below can also be found at Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail.

Rhode Island Ave Trolley Trail

First, the bad news. It seems unlikely we will see a paved trail through the Cafritz property anytime soon. The problem stems from the inability for the property owners, county officials, and NIMBYs to agree on what type of development is appropriate for the site. If you are unfamiliar with the stalled Cafritz development, get caught up here and here. Until the stalemate is broken and some agreement is reached, it appears the Cafritzes are unwilling to allow the trail to cut through their property. They are likely using the trail as leverage to negotiate for a higher-density development.

cafritz hobo path

EYA Trolley Trail

The Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation is working on the final design and construction documents for the section from Tuckerman Street (just north of Riverdale Park’s town center) south to Madison Street. Unfortunately, no one kept track of the official boundary of the right-of-way from the old streetcar line; this poor record-keeping has now led to disputes with surrounding landowners about the exact route of the path. Construction could begin as early as next summer, but is dependent on how fast disputes with landowners are resolved.

EYA, the developer of the Hyattsville Arts District, is responsible for the section south of approximately Madison Street to the Franklin’s Parking Lot. They are under contract to begin construction after acquiring an unknown number of building permits. There are plans to eventually extend the Trolley Trail from Franklin’s to the Northwest Branch Trail near Route 1, but there is currently no funding for this section.

In other trail news, plans are also under way to extend Paint Branch Trail northward along Cherry Hill Road to north of Sellman Road and connect with the Little Paint Branch Trail, completing an off-road paved trail from Laurel to Bladensburg. Also, Maryland has nearly completed its portion of the vital missing link between Bladensburg Park and the National Arboretum. When finished, this will allow direct bicycle access from College Park all the way to Anacostia Park and Navy Yard.  Imagine riding your bike to an afternoon baseball game! However, there are reports that the District of Columbia is dragging their feet and still attempting to acquire money for the design stage. It seems that, unfortunately, the full connection is still more than a year away.

Stay tuned for an update on the final section of the Trolley Trail in College Park through the Old Town neighborhood and a revisit of the safety issues at the Paint Branch Road crossing.

3 thoughts on “Ongoing Plans to Complete Trolley Trail, but Barriers Stand in the Way”

  1. Absolutely appreciative of the update on these bike trails. I live in Hyattsville, I’m an avid cyclist, and occasionally bike to work in Suitland. I’m very interested in the trail link between Bladensburg and eventually extending to the Navy Yard. Specifically, does anyone know what portion will be complete soon and what portion will take time? Will the trail just extend to the Arboretum when Maryland is finished with their portion? Or will the trail extend to Anacostia Park?

  2. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for the comment. From my conversation with the PG County Department of Parks and Rec, the portion of the “missing link” in Maryland, from Bladensburg Waterfront Park to approximately Route 50 near the DC border (on the east side of the Anacostia), is nearly complete. I was at Bladensburg Park a few weeks ago and can confirm that they were working on a small bridge over one of the streams that flows into the Anacostia (behind the building with the boats). DC is responsible for the portion of the missing link from approximately Benning Road in DC north to the Maryland border, but I’m not sure when this will be complete. When it is, it will complete a path all the way to Anacostia Park on the east side of the river and will allow cyclists to cross to the west side of the river (at Benning Road) and access bike lanes into and through Capitol Hill. If you go to Google Maps, click on directions, then click on the bicycle symbol, it clearly shows where the missing link is. Hope this helps.

  3. Wonderful post, thanks for this information. Hopefully the Cafritz situation is resolved soon. It would be great to be able to bike from campus to the EYA stuff that’s opening this summer.

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