Pedestrians and cyclists to see improvements along Route 1
BY DAN BEHREND
Three developments slated for the Route 1 Corridor in Hyattsville will change how people experience and move through the city.
Planned construction will improve sidewalks and create pedestrian plazas. An extension of the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail will connect travel routes for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Stretching from the Canadian border in Maine to Key West, U.S. Route 1 goes by many names. Where Route 1 intersects with Farragut Street in Hyattsville, it becomes Baltimore Avenue, heading north to Laurel, and Rhode Island Avenue, heading south to the District.
Tens of thousands of people drive through Hyattsville on Route 1 daily. According to state data for 2011 through 2020, a daily average of about 25,000 to 31,000 motor vehicles drive the stretch from East-West Highway to the intersection with the U.S. Route 1 Alternate overpass, just north of Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store.
Over the same period, a daily average of 16,000 to 24,000 vehicles traveled Rhode Island Avenue towards D.C.
For perspective, the recent 2020 Census estimated the population of the City of Hyattsville to be 21,187.
Route 1 is also a neighborhood street where people live, work, socialize and exercise.
With construction bringing more housing and retail space to the city, residents may choose to leave their cars at home, especially if they’re making short trips in the city. New initiatives will likely make those trips safer and more comfortable.
Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail extension
Plans to extend the trolley trail from Farragut Street to Charles Armentrout Drive moved forward in late September, when the Maryland Department of Transportation asked for bids on a contract to build the extension.
In another step forward for the project, CSX, the rail company which owns the right of way by the train tracks where the trail would run, agreed to shift that right of way to the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission, according to an Oct. 25 update from State Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s). Completion of the trail depended on CSX transferring this right of way.
The trolley trail extension will fill a gap in the area’s trail network. It will connect the trolley trail with the Anacostia Tributary Trail System by adding a 10-foot-wide pedestrian and bike path to Rhode Island Avenue, buffered by grass on each side.
The extension will provide people with a beginner-friendly trail along Rhode Island Avenue in Hyattsville, separated from car traffic.
The plan will narrow northbound Rhode Island Avenue to one lane in many places, which may help calm vehicle traffic heading into Hyattsville.
The Route 1 Corridor will also likely see improvements to the sidewalks in front of Federalist Pig, at 5504 Baltimore Avenue. On July 29, the Prince George’s County Planning Board approved, with conditions, a detailed site plan submitted for the restaurant company.
The plan for the 13-foot-wide sidewalk includes a 5-foot sidewalk, a 5-foot landscape strip, and a 3-foot strip with brick pavers. A similar configuration can be seen directly across the street at the Shoppes at Arts District.
According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, using a buffer to separate the sidewalk from vehicle traffic (in this case the landscape strip and strip of brick pavers) can provide pedestrians with a greater sense of safety. Improved sidewalks can promote walking and better public health.
Federalist Pig will also install bicycle racks. The county-approved plan shows a marked 6-foot-wide crosswalk across the parking lot entrance, along with the closing off a driveway entrance from 44th Avenue.
The county’s planning staff found that these aspects of the proposal align with the sector plan goals of defining the streetscape as an inviting public space, enhancing crosswalks and sidewalks so that the area is recognized as pedestrian-friendly, and identifying safe and practical measures to accommodate bicyclists.
Hyattsville Canvas Apartments
The Canvas Apartments (previously Armory Apartments) are planned for south of Jefferson Street, across the street from Yes! Organic Market (5331 Baltimore Avenue). The development will include 284 apartments and 32,000 square feet of retail space. As required by the sector plan, it will include a sidewalk at least 12 feet wide along Baltimore Avenue. Similar to other recent developments, plans the developer shared with the city call for a landscaped strip with trees creating a buffer between the sidewalk and traffic lanes.
Additionally, two public plazas will be built along Baltimore Avenue. One will be south of Crossover Church, which is in the historic Hyattsville Armory Building at the corner of Jefferson Street and Baltimore Avenue. The second plaza will be in front of retail space near the Canvas Apartments entrance, north of Hamilton Street.
The developer, Urban Investment Partners, received permits to begin demolition. While continuing to work through “challenges along the way to entitle, permit, and finance” during the pandemic, the developer anticipates starting demolition in December, completing construction in two years, and finishing the project in spring 2024.
Residents should expect temporary sidewalk closures during some phases of construction. If completed as planned, however, these projects could increase the safety and comfort of car-free travelers in the city along Route 1.