July Newsletter: Trail Wins Across the DMV!

It’s an exciting time for trail enthusiasts: over the past four months, we’ve seen several major wins for trails from the federal to local level. We are excited to share a few of the trail developments happening across the region.

Federal Funding for Trails

Earlier this month, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee passed the INVEST in America Act (INVEST Act). This transformational bill includes millions of dollars of investment for active transportation. The House T&I Committee also selected $5.662 billion in Member Designated Projects (formally known as earmarks) to be included in the INVEST Act. 70% of the projects selected include an active transportation component. In June, the Capital Trails Coalition sent a letter urging Chairman DeFazio to select the trail-specific projects submitted by our elected officials. The following trail projects were included in the bill that passed through the House: 

  • Arboretum Bridge and Trail, $4,000,000, DC 
  • Metropolitan Branch Trail, $3,000,000, DC 
  • I-66 Transportation Alternatives, $4,000,000, Fairfax County, VA
  • Long Bridge, $4,000,000, Arlington, VA

This funding is not final as the bill will still need to be approved by the Senate. 

Montgomery County 

  • The Coalition sent County Executive Elrich a letter supporting the Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel and urging the County Executive to fully fund the tunnel in the FY23-FY28 CIP Budget. In May 2021, the County Council voted to retain funding for the full $54.9m cost of the tunnel, with the proviso that $20m of that will be obtained by the County from Federal funds, possibly through the passage of the infrastructure plan currently being debated on Capitol Hill.

Arlington County

  • We celebrated the opening of the new bike/ped bridge over Lee Highway in March! 
  • The Arlington Boulevard Trail has potential to be an incredible trail that connects hundreds of thousands of people to neighborhoods, offices, retail, parks, schools, and government services. On June 29th, the Capital Trails Coalition testified at the County’s CIP budget hearing to advocate for more funding for the design of the Arlington Boulevard Trail. Read our budget testimony here
  • The Arlington County Board approved the CIP budget on Tuesday, July 20th and included funding for a feasibility study for the Arlington Boulevard Trail! The study area is from Jackson Street to George Mason Drive and will take approximately 18 months. This would not have been possible without the advocacy efforts from many of our CTC partners! 

DC

  • In March, we celebrated the groundbreaking for the Rock Creek Park Trail Rehab projects! This long awaited project will improve trail width across from the Kennedy Center and will add in a new pedestrian bridge connection to the Zoo Loop. The National Mall is also undergoing several trail and road crossing improvements including the extension of the 15th street cycle track. Visit this page to learn more!
  • The People’s Alliance for Rock Creek has been leading a campaign to keep Upper Beach Drive closed to cars 7 days a week. The Capital Trails Coalition joined the other 6,000 residents and signed the petition. Keeping Beach Drive closed to cars will close a critical gap in the trail network between the District of Columbia and Montgomery County
  • On June 10th, The Committee on Transportation & the Environment held a Budget Oversight Hearing to review the proposed FY22 budget. We testified and asked the council to preserve the increased funding set aside in the budget for trails! Read our full testimony here

Prince George’s County

  • We participated in a bike ride with the University of Maryland for Bike Week! UMD organized a ride for staff and students to visit the new College Park Woods connector trail. The new trail provides the important link just north of the campus to the Paint Branch Trail. 
  • On May 4th, the Capital Trails Coalition testified at the Prince George’s County Public Budget Hearing. We asked for an increased allotment to bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements and Green Street Improvements (which includes trails). Read our full testimony here
  • We also testified at the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission’s (M-NCPPC) Budget Hearing on April 20th. There is a lot of great work happening in Prince George’s County and we want to make sure the department has the staff resources necessary to execute on the projects. Read our full testimony here
  • As part of the Federal Highway Administration Surface Transportation Program, the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) is a reimbursable federal aid funding program for transportation-related community projects that strengthen the intermodal transportation system. The National Park Service applied for TAP funds for the Oxon Cove Trail & Bridge Rehab project. The Capital Trails Coalition submitted a letter of support for this project. 
  • One of our Coalition members, the Urban Land Institute (ULI), organizes a group called the Prince George’s Local Product Council (formerly known as the Initiative Council). This Council brings together members active in development in Prince George’s County from the public and private sector as well as members who want to learn more about the unique opportunities and challenges within the county and how they relate to the region at large. The Capital Trails Coalition served as a guest speaker at the Council’s May 18th meeting to discuss the Capital Trails Network Impact Report. 

Fairfax County

  • On April 13th, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to acquire the lands necessary to complete the construction of the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway Trail. The Capital Trails Coalition submitted a letter in advance of the vote vocalizing our support for the trail project. 
  • Fairfax County is working on updating their active transportation network by combining the Bicycle Master Plan and the Countywide Trails Plan into the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan. The goal of this project is to establish and implement safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets and trails in Fairfax County for users of all ages and abilities. The ActiveFairfax Transportation plan will combine the vision for bicycling from the Bicycle Master Plan created in 2014, together with infrastructure, benefits, and highlights of the Countywide Trails Plan map that was last updated in 2018. In April, we sent out an action alert to encourage Fairfax County residents to participate in the public engagement process! 
  • On April 15th, Fairfax County held their public hearing on the County Executive’s Proposed FY 2022 Operating & Capital Improvement Plan Budgets. The Capital Trails Coalition testified at the hearing to verbally support adding funding for Phase Two of the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan as well as to advocate for funding working toward filling in gaps on the Arlington Boulevard Trail. Read more about our testimony here and find our full testimony here
  • The Cinder Bed Road Bikewayproject will provide a roughly 2 mile continuous shared use path between Newington Road and the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station. A shared use path will be constructed along the west side of Cinder Bed Road, connect to an existing trail through Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) property, and then continue through private property to tie into the trail at the end of Barry Road that leads to the Franconia/Springfield Metro Station. The project length is approximately two miles. On May 13th, Capital Trails Coalition submitted comments showing our support for the Cinder Bed Road Bikeway project. 

Launch of Capital Trails Coalition Impact Report 

The Capital Trails Coalition has spent the last several years fundraising to complete an economic report to quantify the economic, social, and environmental benefits of the regional trail network. After a lot of hard work and several generous donations, we launched the process to create the Capital Trails Coalition Impact Report in October 2020. Throughout the winter, we met with elected officials and Agency heads to garner support for the trail network and secured 40 endorsements (listed on page 3)! We celebrated the completion of the report with a virtual launch event in April, and we heard from regional leaders including Congressman Don Beyer, David Harrington, and Neil Albert. You can watch the recording of the event here!

Council Resolutions in Support of the Trails Network

In the fall, the Capital Trails Coalition developed a Resolution in support of the goal to complete the remaining top 40 priority projects identified by the Capital Trails Coalition (CTC) by 2025. On June 22nd, the Prince George’s County Council adopted the CTC Resolution (CR-062-2021). The resolution requests the County Executive and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, as well as the State of Maryland and the Federal Government, to assist in prioritizing Prince George’s County Capital Trails Network projects for funding. The legislation also endorses the completion of 40 priority projects of the Capital Trails Coalition Network by 2025. We would like to extend a big thank you to Council Member Glaros and her staff for introducing the resolution!

On July 13th, Councilmember Andrew Friedson introduced the CTC resolution to the Montgomery County Council. The council voted on the resolution on Tuesday, July 20th and it passed unanimously! 

Capital Trails Coalition Leadership

First, we are thrilled to welcome our newest Steering Committee Member, Laurie Williams! Laurie is a retired Sr. Computer Scientist that worked for the Federal Government. Once she retired, she became an avid cyclist and a mentor for the Washington Area Bicycle Association’s (WABA) Women and Bicycle program. She is on the leadership team of a local biking group, Black Women Bike DC where she promotes biking for women (especially black women) of all ages.

Laurie has been advocating for better biking infrastructure and safe streets for everyone. She is a League Cycling Instructor (LCI) certified by the League of American Bicyclists, and she teaches private lessons, learn how to ride classes, and bike safely and confident riding classes. She wrote, produced, and directed a video for the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) entitled “The Challenges of Biking in Underserved Suburban Areas: Central & Southern Prince George’s County, Maryland” and it can be found on her YouTube channel ‘BabyBoomersBiking’. Laurie advocates for biking laws and infrastructure with Congress and State Representatives. She has testified about biking issues before the DC and Prince George’s County Council and has advocated to bring Bikeshare docking stations to underserved communities. 

At our quarterly meeting in March, the Capital Trails Coalition voted to have Greg Billing serve as our incoming Chair. Since that meeting, Greg has welcomed a second child and has stepped down as WABA’s Executive Director. Greg has been instrumental in making the Capital Trails Coalition what it is today and the Coalition’s leadership team would like to extend a special thank you for his efforts! We are honored to welcome Tony Goodman as the new incoming chair, effective October 1st.

Tony has been enthusiastically involved with the Capital Trails Coalition for many years. He previously worked for DC Councilmember Grosso’s office as Chief of Staff, and now is the Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) Program Manager at the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA). He has provided a great deal of assistance to advance the NY Ave Trail project and served as a very involved member of the Capital Trails Coalition’s equity working group. He is very invested in providing recreation and transportation access to underserved communities in our region. His background in politics/ advocacy, local government, community organizing, and emergency management will be tremendously helpful additions to the Coalition and to the Steering Committee.

All of this work would not be possible without our Coalition members! Know of an organization we should partner with? Let us know! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @TrailsCoalition for up-to-date project information. Have questions about any of the projects listed in this month’s update? Feel free to reach out.