A project linking Prince George’s County bicycle trails to one along the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., received additional state money, and is one cyclists say is a step in the right direction to creating greater bike connectivity in the county.
A $500,000 Maryland Department of Transportation Bikeways Program Grant received on July 24 will help fund a 0.4-mile connection of the Anacostia Tributary Trail system to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail in the District. Transportation officials estimate the project will begin by the end of the year. The Bikeways Program began in November 2011 and lets agencies statewide apply for grants to create and enhance existing bicycle trails, according to MDOT.
The Anacostia Tributary Trail connects communities such as Adelphi, College Park and Hyattsville, according to the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation website. Connecting the tributary and riverwalk trails will result in 60 miles of trails, according to MDOT.
John Epps, a cyclist and owner of the Maryland Park Bicycles shop in Capitol Heights, said the project could potentially drive more traffic to his business.
Epps said cyclists who come into his shop ride “frequently traveled” state highways such as Md. 193 and Md. 202 and want connections, too, in addition to more signs that ask motorists to share the road with cyclists. Epps said he thinks it’s a case of “if you build it they will come,” and that cyclists will choose a trail rather than a busy road if the option is there to lower the chance of being in an accident.
“I think it’s very important because customers are always coming by asking for the best places to ride in the area, but unfortunately there aren’t designated passageways that are marked in our immediate vicinity,” Epps said. “It’s important to have a trail that connects to a destination further than just a few miles.”
Cheverly Councilman R.J. Eldridge (Ward 3) said he bikes two to three days per week from his home to his job in Silver Spring, using the western branch of the Anacostia Tributary Trail.
Eldridge, who is a member of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, said Cheverly residents are looking forward to a connection they can use to commute to the District. He added it could increase home values in towns such as Bladensburg, where residences line the trail.
“It’s something people have been clamoring for for years,” Eldridge said. “I would agree that there still remain several challenges connecting a lot of the communities to this new trail. It runs along the Anacostia River, but it’s hard for many of these places — Cheverly included — for those people to get over there.”
A $10 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant awarded in June will go toward connecting Benning Road in the District and the county’s Bladensburg Waterfront Park for the Riverwalk Trail.
Prior to that, the 0.4-mile connection project received a $1 million Bikeways Program grant for fiscal 2012 in March, said Erin Henson, an MDOT spokeswoman.
An additional $560,000 will go toward a design study for a bridge to link the Prince George’s and Anne Arundel County ends of the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Trail over the Patuxent River.
“Considering we had no money to construct it until we had this TIGER grant and this other money, we’re well ahead of the game,” Henson said. “This is a great project. It’s going to provide a trail network between Maryland and D.C.”