State and Prince George’s County officials celebrated an effort they hope promotes healthier lifestyles, connects communities and gets cars off the road.
Officials met Friday at Bladensburg Waterfront Park to officially open the new stretch of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which will help to connect Washington, D.C., and Prince George’s County, and revitalize the Anacostia River and surrounding wetlands.
The 1.5-mile addition connects to the existing 36-mile Anacostia Tributary Trail System, a system of trails surrounding the Anacostia tributaries in Maryland. The addition provides access to the state’s $9.2 million 50-acre Anacostia Wetland Mitigation Project that officials said would create a valuable habitat for wildlife in the Anacostia.
Additionally, the trail becomes part of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Network, a 60-mile continuous trail in Maryland and the District identified as a priority project under President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which seeks to reconnect urban communities to waterways.
Dozens of area cyclists came to break in the new trail alongside Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and other state and local officials.
“This is the missing link to get people from this area into D.C. That’s why this is so critical,” said Philip Koopman of Mount Rainier.
O’Malley said the addition in Bladensburg is a great step toward connecting the state to the District.
“We’re working to do an important job of restoring the Anacostia,” he said.
O’Malley also announced an additional $1 million in state funding to develop a final trail segment, a 3.9-mile trail extending from the addition in Bladensburg to Benning Road in northeast D.C., completing the 60-mile trail system. Project designs will be completed by summer 2012 and construction will begin by the end of 2012.
Brent Bolin, director of advocacy for the Anacostia Watershed Society, a Bladensburg-based environmental organization that works to help restore the Anacostia River, said the trail addition would serve as a recreational resource for the river.
“I think this is fantastic,” he said. “This is a step forward to completing the Anacostia trail to D.C. and I’m really excited about it.”