A steel-framed box bridge, narrow, suited for pedestrians and cyclists, stretches across a shallow, narrow streambed. In the background, winter has stripped a forest of trees of its leaves. Behind the forest, an apartment high-rise is visible.

Big extension of Little Paint Branch Trail to open soon, link Beltsville to regional trail network

Major construction on an expansion of the Little Paint Branch Trail is expected to be finished later this month, according to Prince George’s County officials. The new extended trail will run for 2.2 miles alongside Cherry Hill Road from the trail’s present-day terminus in Northern College Park near Cherry Hill Road Park. A steel hiker-biker bridge has been built to cross the Little Paint Branch creek. From there it will parallel Cherry Hill Road and cross the Beltway on existing bridges before turning east onto Sellman Road where it hooks up to an existing trail stub at Little Paint Branch Park in Beltsville. 

Robert Patten, trail development program manager at Prince George’s County Parks, praised construction crews for their ability to rapidly make progress on the trail once construction started. In particular, he said the rate of construction was notable because of the heavy rains that have presented obstacles for work, particularly around the streambed where the bridge is built.

“We hope to open the trail in March or April.

Required Reading: School board leadership, Purple Line, Christmas tree blues

Required Reading is a simple, daily roundup of news coverage from other outlets relevant to Prince George’s County and its Route 1 communities. In our Dec. 6, 2018, edition: Prince George’s County School Board picks familiar leader; Update on the Purple Line; Don’t go, Wallace Loh; and the demise of a charity Christmas tree sale. 

Mike Franklin no longer owns Old Maryland Grill (Hyattsville Wire)

Thornton back at helm of Prince George’s School Board (The Washington Informer)

Purple Line partners talk Glenridge plans (Prince George’s Sentinel)

At State of the Campus, UMD President Loh criticizes Regents, touts campus improvements (The Diamondback)

TIF bonds issued for Westphalia redevelopment (Press release)

High prices fell Laurel Lions Club Christmas tree sale (Baltimore Sun)

College Park Council considers security camera subsidy for businesses (The Diamondback)

Legislators meet with UMD officials about football program (Diverse: Issues in Education)

Two senior lawmakers urge Loh to stay as UMD president (The Washington Post)

Angela Alsobrooks, clad in white, hugs a member of her family after taking the oath of office for Prince George's County Executive Dec. 3, 2018. She is the first woman to lead Prince George's County.

Alsobrooks rises: New county executive sworn in, pledges to fulfill ‘promise’ of Prince George’s

Newly sworn in County Executive Angela Alsobrooks began her term in office by urging Prince George’s County residents to think of the future, to not be bound by the perceptions of outsiders, and to resist the “temptation of rugged individualism” to band together in collective action to seek positive change. “Prince George’s County isn’t on the brink. Prince George’s County isn’t around the corner. Prince George’s County isn’t almost there,” said Alsobrooks to growing cheers during her speech at the swearing-in ceremony at the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro Dec. 3, 2018.

Bunker Hill Fire Station lawsuit moves through motions

A lawsuit challenging the consolidation of the volunteer fire departments operating out of the Bunker Hill Fire Station continues to move ahead. This week, lawyers for both sides will be in court for a hearing on pending pre-trail disputes and motions, set for Nov. 20, 2018, in Upper Marlboro. According to a scheduling order issued by presiding judge John Davey, the pre-trial phase of the suit is expected to end by Jan. 30, 2019.

Good or bad, Prince George’s may dodge HQ2 impacts

Crystal City’s selection as one of two new offices for Amazon’s much-ballyhooed HQ2 search has been made official. And while Prince George’s County was long-ago dismissed from consideration for the project, Crystal City’s selection will still have an impact on Prince George’s County, according to a paper released earlier this week. But Prince George’s County’s housing market may be less impacted by Amazon’s presence than other close-in suburban communities, the report found. If you buy into the hype, Amazon’s decision has the potential to create a “second downtown” for the Washington, D.C., area, with up to 25,000 news jobs headed to Virginia. Many of those jobs will be filled by workers who migrate here, rather than springing from the soil of Crystal City.

Yellow Line service could return to Prince George’s County

After years trying to get “Back 2 Good,” Metro officials now want to bring Yellow Line trains back to Greenbelt.

The resumption of Yellow Line service to Greenbelt is one part of a multi-pronged approach Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld plans to recommend to the agency’s board this week as part of its proposed operating budget for the next fiscal year. The proposal still needs to be approved by Metro’s Board of Governors. “The past year has been about demonstrating to customers that we are getting Metro ‘back to good,’” said Wiedefeld in a press release. “Now, we have to get better than good as we work to attract and retain customers. While there are a number of improvements such as pass discounts and automatic train operations that we can do within the new cap on subsidy growth, the service improvements I am including in this budget will need the region’s support and the Board’s approval.”

Metrorail’s designers originally envisioned Yellow Line service terminating at Greenbelt. However, this scheme has been only been implemented once, between 2012 and 2017, as part of Metro’s “Rush+” service program.

Cottage City, Mount Rainier, Laurel recognized for ‘green’ initiatives

For the first time since the program began, Cottage City has been certified as a Sustainable Maryland town. It joins more than 35 cities across Maryland recognized for environmental stewardship policy leadership by the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland. Additionally, Mount Rainier and Laurel’s environmental policy efforts saw those Prince George’s County municipalities re-certified as Sustainable Maryland communities. To achieve certification, municipalities must form a Green Team comprised of local residents, community leaders, municipal staff and officials and complete a variety sustainability-related projects. Points are given depending on the type of the project undertaken Cities must earn at least 150 such points and submit the appropriate documentation as evidence that the Sustainable Maryland Certified requirements have been satisfied.

Route 1 multifamily trends good for renters, bad for developers

The headline is dramatic: “Traditionally affordable suburban Maryland community faces uncertain future from nearly 2,000 new multifamily units.”
Yikes, right? That’s the headline on an article from real estate analysis company CoStar Group’s news service from mid-October 2018. But behind the scary wording is a more nuanced story about long-term shifts in the multifamily real estate market of the Route 1 corridor’s inner-Beltway suburbs. Here’s the nuance: the development should be good news for renters, at least in the near-term, as a sudden abundance of multifamily units along the corridor are expected to put a damper on rising rents. So why the scary wording?

The Route 1 corridor’s other trail gaps

News that Maryland highway officials are indeed closing the gap separating the southern end of the Trolley Trail from the Anacostia Tributary Trails in Hyattsville was warmly welcomed by cyclists. But that’s not the only gap in the Route 1 corridor hiker-biker trail network. Others exist that, if closed, could make it even easier to move through and across northern Prince George’s County in something other than a car. North Brentwood-Mount Rainier trail stub

In fact, our first gap we’ll be reviewing today is but a stone’s throw from the eventual intersection of the Trolley Trail and the Anacostia Tributary Trail System. Located on the southern shore of the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia in Brentwood, this trail runs east to west from approximately (but not quite exactly) Rhode Island Avenue along the levee as it skirts North Brentwood.