Riverdale Park’s long defunct trolley line is about to be given a second life.
Early this summer, Maryland National Capital Area Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) is set to begin construction to convert the old trolley line that will eventually connect with trails in Hyattsville and College Park, said planner-coordinator Elileen Nivera.
Though the line has technically sat unused for more than 50 years, a trolley service once ferried passengers between the District of Columbia and Laurel, stopping in Riverdale Park every 10 minutes during its peak years, said local historian Melissa Avery.
The line was taken out of service in the 1960s when DC Transit switched over to buses, she said. But by this time next year, the trail could once again be in use by local residents.
The approximately one-mile stretch of the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Line Trail slated for construction in Riverdale Park will run from Tuckerman Street—just south of the Cafritz property—and will meet up with the recently constructed trail in the Hyattsville EYA district.
The trail will run along the industrial district at the north end of town, take a stroll through the town center parking lot, and pick up again along Rhode Island Avenue beside the current home of the Archie Edwards Blues and Heritage Foundation. That building, which also once housed a book and coffee shop, is actually one of the few existing trolley car depots in the area.
The trail will resume just south of the EYA district and continue on to the end of the Flatiron Building, which is home to .
Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer, who has been advocating for some form of the trail for nearly 15 years, said he was very pleased to see it become a reality.
“The more we connect to our neighbors, the better off we are,” said Archer.
Local residents will be able to use the trail to walk or ride their bikes south to the Hyattsville EYA district and take advantage of restaurants and shopping without having to worry about parking or vehicular traffic. In turn, residents from Hyattsville will be able use the path to travel north and visit the farmers market and town center in Riverdale Park.
“It will be good for us socially and ultimately good for us economically,” Archer said.
The asphalt path will be built at grade and be about 10-feet wide in most places, said Nivera. The connecting trail in Hyattsville is just asphalt, but because the trial in Riverdale has to follow new Prince George's County stormwater management regulations, it will also include rain gardens and swales, she said. These features are commonly used in construction to harvest rainwater and conserve soil.
Construction on the $600,000 trail will likely take between 6 and 9 months, during which time the trail will be closed, Nivera said. Residents can plan on taking hikes and bike rides on the new trail sometime next spring.