In 1898, the City and Suburban Railway began to expand it's track system north from Mount Rainier, Maryland to Brentwood, Hyattsville and Riverdale. The company was also building a line south from Baltimore, Trolley Line Number 9, with plans to connect the two (They never did. The Baltimore line made it as far as Ellicot City and is now partially used as the 1.25 mile long #9 Trolley Line Trail. If completed it would have served as the fourth rail connection between DC and Baltimore).
Another company, the Berwyn and Laurel Electric Railroad Company, started building tracks from the end of the City and Suburban in Riverdale to College Park. It reached Laurel in 1902. Eventually, the City and Suburban took over control of the whole line. Later it became part of the Washington Railway and Electric Company.
Service began to curtail farther out. In 1925, service stopped north of Beltsville. In the 1950's it stopped north of Greenbelt Road. Finally, on September 7, 1958 service on line finished for good.
Lately a push has been underway to revive the southern portion of the line as a bike trail (map). A small piece in Lakeland Community Park, and a bridge, was used as part of the Paint Branch Trail. In 2002 a 1.1 mile section from Paint Branch Parkway to Greenbelt Road (including the section of the Paint Branch Trail) opened as the College Park Trolley Trail. In 2005 it was expanded 1.5 miles north - as bike lanes along Rhode Island Avenue - to Paducah Road. In 2007 a third section from Calvert Road to Albion Road opened.
In 2007, $200,000 was committed to connect the two sections.
This segment, from Calvert Road to the Paint Branch Parkway, is 8 feet wide and 1,700 linear feet long.
I don't know anything else about it (or if work has begun).
College Park wants to expand the trail north to Route 1, but so far I don't think that's happened.
Other cities want to get in on the trail. EYA was to add a section of trail in Hyattsville, from Baltimore Avenue to Madison Avenue, as part of it's Arts District East Village this year, but as of November this year
East Village...remains a vacant lot surrounded by promotional renderings and "coming soon" signs. According to Aakash Thakkar, EYA’s Vice President of Development, 45% of the East Village's planned retail space has already been leased and construction will be begin - market conditions being what they are - once they hit a threshold of between 55 and 60%.
says Thakkar. "The hope is that we start first or second quarter of next year."
Riverdale Park has authorized "Investigating establishing a hiker / biker trail along the old trolley lines including authorization to investigate legal issues such as title and any other practical issues."
Fred Shaffer summarized some of the recent work done on the Rhode
Island Avenue Trolley Trail by College Park and Hyattsville. Much of
the trail has been completed within College Park. Relatedly,
Hyattsville has worked with the applicant of the EYA development for
the provision of a major segment of the trail within Hyattsville. EYA
approvals require the provision of the trail, providing that all of the
trail corridor can be acquired. Discussions with the applicant and an
attorney for the City of Hyattsville indicate that this acquisition is
likely to occur.
Fred Shaffer also noted that M-NCPPC has funding in FY 2009 for a consultant study of the trolley trail within the City of Riverdale Park. First steps for this study will be to develop a scope of work for the study. This scope of work will be developed with the City of Riverdale Park will probably include information on right-of-way acquisition, environmental constraints, and possible preliminary design options.
Also discussed was the existing at-grade crossing along the Trolley Trail at Paint Branch Parkway. Discussions are underway with Councilman Olson’s office concerning safety improvements at this crossing, and different alternatives will have to be evaluated. Suggested improvements include enhanced signage, a pedestrian signal, or grade separated options. Routing trail users to the existing pedestrian crossing at US 1 appears to not be practical because of the length of the detour required.
There are no notes from the October meeting.
The trolley line in the district ran on Rhode Island Avenue, so there is no trail opportunity there. Assuming that the EYA section will connect to the north end of Rhode Island Avenue the trail would start there (though it would probably be worth it to build a sidepath down Rhode Island to Charles Armentrout Drive and the NW Branch trail). Next comes the Riverdale section and then the existing/expanded CPTT back to Route 1 in Beltsville.
The trail could continue on-road as bike lanes to the end of Rhode Island Avenue at Odell Road. Then it could follow the still extant ROW - now used as a footpath - through Beltsville to the Maryland MVA facility on Baltimore Avenue. Space exists to route a trail through it and back onto the ROW - and over the extant, historical bridge - on the north side.
Between Annandale Road and Ritz Way the trail would have to leave the built-on ROW and head towards Route 1 and then away from it along a small stream. It would need to negotiate another set of warehouse type buildings (either on-road or off) to Muirkirk road. The trail could return to the ROW here - running into trouble again at the new Central Parke at Victoria Falls (the extra e makes it old fashioned). It appears that the ROW will not be retained, but the property will have a trail on the piece near Route 1. Assuming a trail can tie into this it can go around the property, and then go onto the main road (pictured) of the Maryland National Memorial Cemetery.
The cemetery road runs on the ROW. Once again it comes to the question of building a bike trail through a cemetery, which I think can be done in an appropriately respectful manner; but I certainly understand if people disagree. Nonetheless, the trail could go around on Route 1.
Across Contee the trail returns to the ROW and then, at Cypress Street, runs into the southern parts of Laurel where the ROW has been completely built on. The trail could continue, mostly on-road on Mulberry, Cherry, 4th, 5th, Carrol and 6th, with a little bit of trail around Laurel Lake, but it would not be using the ROW do do this.
The southern portion of the trail seems to be in good shape. But recent development on the ROW north of Beltsville - especially Central Parkeeeee leads one to think that that section may be doomed.
Photo by Intersystems Concepts Inc.