On Monday, Officials from Maryland, DC and the federal government had a ceremeny at River Terrace Park to unveil the final design of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Segment of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (ART). Work on the 4 mile section will be advertised this year with work to begin in the spring and complete in 2014.
The new trail segment will create a desperately needed connection between DC and western Prince George's County - John Porcari called it a "golden spike moment". This is the key connection between the Maryland and DC segments of the 60 mile Anacostia Trail system that stretches to Wheaton, Greenbelt and College Park. Because of the river; three railroad lines; and highways 50, 201 and 295, the area is currently impossible to navigate safely on foot or bicycle - requiring major detours.
This $15 million trail project is jointly funded by: a $10 million U.S. Department of Transportation 2012 TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant, $3.5 million from the District of Columbia and $1.5 million from Maryland’s Cycle Maryland Bikeways Program.
This segment represents half of the unfinished mileage of the planned 20 mile system, and brings the system much closer to "completion". The planned system still has a gap in that on the west side of the river there is no way to get from Benning Road in DC to Colmar Manor in Maryland without crossing the river or using bike-unfriendly Bladensburg Road, but one can hope that the completion of these segments will place pressure on the Arboretum to allow for such a trail.
The trail would pass through Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, hugging the river and bringing users close to the water. It would include a very long boardwalk under the New York Avenue and Amtrak bridges along the DC-Maryland boundary.
This also creates a major missing piece in a "Bicycle Beltway" that would almost entirely encircle DC. When the Capital Crescent Trail, Met Branch Trail, Prince George's County Connector and South Capitol Street Trails are completed one can ride a complete off-road loop using those trails, the Wilson and Key Bridges and the Mt. Vernon Trail.
And of course, it's a local amenity for Ward 7 residents.
Ironically, the National Park Service ownership along the Anacostia effectively "walls off" the river for communities like Mayfair Mansions and Kenilworth-Parkside. The new trail will provide new access routes into the park lands from the communities that surround them. Residents who have suffered living along a polluted Anacostia should certainly be among the first to reap the rewards of a clean river.
To fully capture the value of this investment, a few more connections across DC-295 are needed, as well as "Section 8" - the bridge across the Anacostia at M Street NE.
According to City Paper this is being pitched as 30 minute reduction in travel time - and I could buy that if someone were going from Mayfair to Bladensburg by bike, though most users will probably save less time. Still, I might use it to commute, even though it means crossing the Anacostia three times each way.
WTOP starts out with an incredible statement
Bicyclists one day will be able to ride from Georgetown to College Park.
Yes. One day. But not now. Can't be done.
More coverage here and
There's a movie about the ceremony below the jump