As a man pushed a stroller on the sidewalk along Prince George’s County’s busy Central Avenue, federal, state and local lawmakers celebrated a $25 million dollar federal grant that will create more transportation options and improvements for Maryland neighborhoods from Capitol Heights to Largo Town Center.
The RAISE grant, which stands for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, will help fund the construction of the Central Avenue Connector Trail, which would tie neighborhoods from west of the Capitol Heights Metro station to Largo.
During a news conference at the Addison Road-Seat Pleasant Metro station on Monday morning, Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen said the grant shows “how we’re putting historic infrastructure investments to work in our state.”
Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, who spent 25 years as an engineer in the Montgomery County government, said the trail will help create links to multiple neighborhoods and will offer transportation options to all users.
Along with providing links to existing trails, such as the Anacostia River Trail, the Sligo Creek Trail and the Northwest Branch Trail, Miller said the network would provide connections to several stations along Metro’s Blue Line and the future Purple Line.
Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld, who had previously served as Metro’s general manager, said the grant helps foster a “more bikeable and walkable future.”
Maryland Rep. Glenn Ivey, whose district includes the Addison Road-Seat Pleasant stop along the Blue Line, referenced the upbeat 1979 anthem by McFadden and Whitehead when he told the crowd gathered for the announcement, “We’re really on the upswing out there, this is a really, ‘Ain’t no stopping us now’ kind of moment.”
Kyle Reeder, a lifelong Prince George’s County resident who now lives in Capitol Heights, told WTOP that in his neighborhood, there are no sidewalks, so at night, he’s apt to have his dog hop in his car for a drive to a nearby park where they can walk.
“We are looking forward to seeing updated schedules to see how fast this project will be completed. We’re really excited about it and want to see it fully funded so we can actually realize the fullest potential of living next to four Metro stations,” Reeder said. “People want to access those things. If you build it, they will come.”
There are other issues in the area, Reeder said, including a shortage of safe, marked crosswalks, “and that’s often a reality for a lot of people here in the Capitol Heights-Seat Pleasant communities.” He’s thrilled to see the grant that will help accelerate the construction of the trail currently in the design phase.
The improvements along the Blue Line corridor will help boost the area’s economic vitality, said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks,
“We are also hoping it makes people healthier, that you will get on your bike, that you will walk through these communities. This is a neighborhood that has been sorely in need of some love,” Alsobrooks said.
The grant funding also includes 7 miles of new construction, 8 miles of trail rehabilitation and safety improvements at several at-grade crossings. All of the projects are part of the larger regional Capital Trails Coalition network, a plan to connect a total of 990 miles of trail networks in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
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