A new hiking and biking trail opening in the spring is expected to boost residents’ physical activity and provide a boost for businesses.
The Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail, which broke ground Oct. 23, is a 10-foot-wide asphalt trail that will connect College Park, Riverdale Park and Hyattsville, said Prince George’s County Councilman Eric Olson (D-Dist. 3) of College Park.
“I really believe this trail is going to have a transformative effect on our communities,” Olson said.
The $1,091,000 trail, paid for by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, replaces a dirt path where a trolley service ran until the early 1960s, said Chuck Montrie, an M-NCPPC supervisor.
The first phase of the trail’s construction — a 0.6-mile path to be completed in mid-December — will start in downtown Hyattsville, connecting with the 0.3-mile path in the EYA Arts District Hyattsville and ending at the Riverdale Park Town Center, Olson said.
Officials said the trail’s proximity to business areas may draw walkers and bikers into nearby stores.
“It’s nice. It’s going to bring a lot of people to the area,” said Kendra Blackett-Dibinga, whose Bikram Yoga Riverdale Park business is opening within the next month.
The second phase of the trail is a 0.2-mile path connecting the Riverdale Park Town Center to Tuckerman Street, just south of the 37-acre Cafritz property in Riverdale Park, Montrie said. Cafritz developers will build a 0.3-mile path through their property, connecting with an existing trail in College Park, he said.
About 50 people — including state, county and municipal officials — gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony at the 6100 block of Rhode Island Avenue in Riverdale Park.
Chris Militello, co-owner of Arrow Bicycle in Hyattsville, said the new trail not only willl benefit local businesses, but will let bikers and pedestrians avoid a treacherous stretch on U.S. 1, where Rhode Island Avenue and Baltimore Avenue intersect.
“It’s going to create a corridor that cyclists and pedestrians can navigate safely,” said Militello, who said he has seen a spike in bicycle demand since opening his store in 2008.
Nearby property owners might oppose other trail proposals, Montrie said, but there was no pushback against the Rhode Island Avenue Trail.
“People see that these trails add value to their property,” he said.
Mike Franklin, owner of Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store, said he was uncertain whether it would affect his business, but he was looking forward to the trail nonetheless.
“I think it’s a long time coming, and we’re happy it’s finally happening,” Franklin said.