The small (1.5 mile) segment of the 36 mile Anacostia Tributary Trail System from Bladensburg Park to the Anacostia wetlands has been a long time coming. Since then, this segment of a system that follows stream beds from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties with access to Maryland’s $9.2 million 50-acre Anacostia Wetland Mitigation Project, has gained some heavy-duty, highly visible support – on both sides of the creek.
Witness the crowd of celebrants who showed up for the ribbon cutting this month. They included Governor O’Malley, Senator Cardin, Washington Mayor Gray, Prince George’s County Executive Baker, and Cabinet Secretaries LaHood (Transportation) and Salazar (Interior). That’s a lot of wattage for a short trail that only leads to a highway intersection. But this occasion marked a federal and local commitment to make the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail a major factor in the restoration of the river and its basin – while giving access to recreational, transportation, and environmental amenities throughout the region.
As of today, most of the network build out has occurred in Maryland, where key portions are in process — like the College Park Trolley Trail, which is now tootling its way through Hyattsville and Riverdale. This vision, which incorporates the Woodrow Wilson Bridge trail far to the south near Oxon Hill, courses around RFK, the National Arboretum, and past the Navy Yard and Nationals Stadium.
Once complete, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Network will offer nearly 60 miles of contiguous pathways –– including 39 miles in Maryland and 20 miles in the District of Columbia. In DC, five segments are currently under construction, with a new one around Natsville opening next week. The presence of the Cabinet secretaries and Senator Cardin reinforced the commitment of federal resources to make this plan a reality. Governor O’Malley took the opportunity to announce the trail would be expanded south into DC starting late next year, and that Maryland will commit $1 million towards a 3.9-mile trail extending from this addition in Bladensburg to Benning Road. Project designs will be completed by summer 2012 and construction will begin by the end of 2012.
Washington may be playing catch-up, but they have a great game plan, as can be seen here: The little pink dotted line above the Maryland line at Route 50 is what just opened. When the Kenilworth (9) and Arboretum (8) segments are complete, they will tie Maryland into most of the Anacostia Basin – all the way to the Potomac.
As for the Maryland Anacostia Tributary Trail System, see how many community and recreation assets(including the University of Maryland) it connects.
We can hope this trail will be complete – or nearly so – in time for the visitors descending upon Maryland and DC for the War of 1812 Bicentennial. Both Washington and Bladensburg were key British victories, leading up to the Battle of Baltimore and the penning of the Star-Spangled Banner. Visiting these historic landmarks via the trails will enhance the experience with the beauty of nature and appreciation for the environment.