When done the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail in DC and the Anacostia Tributary Trails in Maryland will connect to one another to create a 60 mile trail network, arguably the region's most extensive. Last week a new section was formally opened to much fanfare and it was announced that work that would close the gap between the two systems would begin in 2012. In addition work continues on four other sections in the District, with the next ribbon cutting two weeks away.
The section that was celebrated last week was a 1.5 mile section from Bladensburg Park to a dead-end just north of US-50.
The trail consists mostly of a winding section along the river, much of which was finished three years ago as part of the Wilson Bridge Project, as well as a new connection to Kenilworth Avenue via Lloyd Street. Despite its limited utility, the ceremony attracted a lengthy list of prominent officials including cabinet secretaries, a governor and a senator. This list isn't even complete as there were several state legislators and county and local officials there as well. I even saw Tommy Wells there. The ceremony was about more than just the trail - or even the future promise of the completed trail- though. It was also about the restoration of the river and access to the state's $9.2 million 50-acre Anacostia Wetland Mitigation Project - paid for, at least in part, by the Wilson Bridge Project. [If you ride the trail, you'll see this on the southern end between the trail and the river. Go off trail,and on foot, and climb the hill it created for a pretty good view of the area. The view won't last once trees grow in.]
the restoration of the Anacostia River Watershed and the development of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail has twice been identified as a priority project for the Obama administration under the President’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP). Both initiatives seek to reconnect Americans to the great outdoors and revitalize urban waterways in underserved communities across the country.
It was also an opportunity for Democrats and the Obama administration to contrast themselves, and their support for these kinds of projects, against Republicans who want to cut funding for infrastructure and biking in particular.
"The Anacostia River Trail is a great example of the lasting benefits transportation projects can bring to a community by connecting people to jobs and schools, encouraging economic development, and protecting the environment," said Secretary LaHood. "The Obama Administration is committed to working with our community partners to build great projects like this that provide people with affordable and green transportation options."
“Connecting people and communities is what the Anacostia River Trail, like the Anacostia River itself, is all about,” said Senator Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. “I’m proud to support federal investments that bring together the people of Maryland and the District of Columbia with each other, local economic opportunities and America’s Great Outdoors. Federal dollars are tight right now, so it is important that we invest in the right places, like here on the Anacostia River, to help make our local communities more livable and more economically viable.”
“It’s truly exciting to see the penultimate segment completed in one of the Nation’s largest trail networks,” said DOT Deputy Secretary John D. Porcari. “Let’s redouble our efforts to complete the last link in the District of Columbia and maximize the benefits of this magnificent system for bikers, walker and commuters throughout the region.”
Gov. O'Malley announced that the trail would be expanded south into DC starting late next year, and that Maryland will commit $1million towards that goal.
"The new section we’re opening today is a great start, but together with our partners in the District and in federal government, we are committed to completing the entire trail. We look forward to breaking ground in 2012.”
Once complete, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Network will offer nearly 60 miles of contiguous trails – including 39 miles in Maryland and 20 miles in the District of Columbia.
Project design on the new section will be complete this summer, but that isn't all.
With more than $25 million invested, 12 of 20 miles are complete, including segments linking Diamond Teague Park, the Pumphouse, the Yards, Navy Yard, RFK Stadium, River Terrace and Anacostia Park. The rest are in planning, design or under construction in coordination with the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. DOT and other agencies.
There are five other sections currently under construction, including the Maine Avenue section, the two Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Bridges, the 11th Street Bridge and the bridge between Yards Park and Diamond Teague Park, which opens in two weeks.
The official dedication of the new pedestrian bridge connecting the Yards Park and Diamond Teague Park will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 1:30 pm. The mayor is expected to be there, along with George Hawkins of DC Water (since the bridge runs right past the main pumping station) and I'm sure a slew of other dignitaries.
Maine Avenue was supposed to be completed in October, so we can assume that is close. The two FRP bridges should be open by spring 2012, and the 11th Street Bridge is targeted for July 2013. That will leave 6 more sections to complete, including the one that connects to the trail opened last week.