College Park is one step closer to becoming a walkable community as the City Council prepares to break ground on one of the final phases of a pedestrian and bike trail.
The Trolley Trail is a planned three-mile, hiker-biker pathway. Much of it was converted from an abandoned electric railway that runs the length of College Park’s municipal borders.
During the Oct. 9 City Council meeting, the council selected Forestville-based construction company D&F Construction to complete the $1.7 million fourth phase of the multimillion-dollar project.
For years the city has been designing and paving portions of the trail under the approval of the Maryland State Highway Administration in hopes of generating one continuous route residents can use to get to area destinations such as grocery stores, community centers and Metro stations without using a vehicle.
Mayor Andy Fellows said when complete, the trail system will connect southbound to other trail systems such as the Anacostia River trails.
“It claims a much more bike-able College Park,” he said. “We want people riding bikes to the Metro station. We want people to be in the habit of really hiking and biking as a regular way of getting around. We want to get people out of their cars. It’s a healthy way of getting around. A more pleasant way.”
The construction of the trail was broken up into five phases, with the fourth phase being a roughly seven-block stretch of off-road pavement between Calvert Road and Paint Branch Parkway and the fifth phase being a two-block stretch of pathway in the Lakeland area of the city.
According to city staff, the first phase of the trail — a 1.1-mile on-road trail primarily for bicycles — opened in 2002 and stretched from Paducah Road to Greenbelt Road. The second phase — a 1.5-mile off-road trail from Greenbelt Road to Paint Branch Parkway — opened in 2005. The third phase opened in 2007 as an off-road section that connects Calvert Road to Albion Road.
Steve Groh, the city’s director of finance, said construction for phase four will begin in the spring and be completed by midsummer.
Groh said it’s taken years to approve construction for phase four of the Trolley Trail, as the city has been continually working with SHA to get an approved design.
In a 2007 statement, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) announced that the state would contribute $200,000 in Transportation Enhancement Program funds toward the Trolley Trail project and said he supported College Park’s efforts toward creating a more walkable, bike-friendly community.
“The College Park Trolley Trail is a great way to keep pedestrians safe and away from the roads in a busy, congested part of our state,” he said in the statement. “Completing this trail will be a critical addition to the area, and improve the quality of life for the citizens of College Park and all of Maryland.”
Fellows said he expects the entire project to be completed within the next three years.
“It’s a very exciting time,” he said. “We’re really moving forward and completing a really important bike trail.”