Greenbelt East Trail Progress -- Year 1 Report

MDOT/SHA Feasibility Study Launched

MDOT/SHA Launches Feasibility Study


The Maryland Department of Transportation/State Highway Administration (MDOT/SHA) launched a feasibility study of the Greenbelt East Trail (www.greenbeltnasatrail.org) on August 17th. To kick off the study, MDOT/SHA engineering contractors walked along parts of the proposed trail route with Greenbelt and County officials, volunteers from Friends of the Greenbelt East Trail, and designers from the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC).


MDOT’s feasibility study is scheduled to be completed in December 2023. Friends of the Greenbelt East trail want MDOT/SHA to install a two-way, protected shared use trail on the existing Greenbelt Road (MD 193) right of way. Our goals are to improve safety and access all along the route, as well as to connect two of Maryland’s major trail systems via Greenbelt.


On the way back from our kickoff walk with the MDOT engineers last week, I saw a family of six trying to cross Greenbelt Road: Mom and Dad trying to hold the hands of two kids each while they dashed across the high-speed lanes of traffic. It was a routine thing, but also terrifying to watch.


The Greenbelt East Trail project is ultimately about trying to humanize an inhuman roadway -- trying to convert a road built like a highway into a place where people can feel more comfortable and safe. Where families can cross the road with dignity.


It has been a year since we started work on the Greenbelt East Trail, and this is our 15th Newsletter.


Here's what we've Done:


  1. Kickoff Trail Walk with SHA District 3, Greenbelt, and MNCPPC Officials with State Rep Nicole Williams
  2. Support Letters from Prince George's County Administration, County Council, and the City of Greenbelt
  3. Incorporated Friends of the Greenbelt East Trail and Registered with the IRS for 501c3 Tax Exempt Status (Donate Here!)
  4. Won a Grant for Technical Assistance from the National Park Service
  5. Won a Grant from ATHA for Design Renderings by the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC)
  6. Launched the MDOT/SHA Feasibility Study with Greenbelt and County Officials, NDC, and MDOT Consulting Engineers.


Here's What We've Accomplished on the ground:


  1. Nothing. Greenbelt Road is just as unsafe and inaccessible as it was a year ago. There's no safe bike/walk connection between Eleanor Roosevelt HS and DuVal HS and the Owens Science Center. Nor is there a safe way for NASA employees to bike or walk to work, or even to access the bus stops right outside their gates! Greenbelt residents have no safe bike or walk access to the newly developing housing and office/shopping area between Good Luck Road and Lanham Severn Road, and new residents of that area have no non-car access to Greenbelt. In the bigger picture, the WB&A Trail remains as disconnected from the Anacostia River Trail System as ever.

An Unsafe and Inaccessible Bus Stop on the Route of the Future Greenbelt East Trail


They say you can tell what an organization values by its budget. But I think you can really tell the most from its procedures. What we've learned over the last year is that our current procedures for building trails for biking and walking along state roads in Maryland seem very improvised, complex and difficult. This shouldn't be so hard, and it shouldn't take so long. It should be routine, not a special project or exception. Maryland and Prince George's County talk a lot about complete streets, but we don't seem to value them enough to make them easy to create!


For the Greenbelt East Trail, we're proposing flexposts and curbstops on existing pavement for most of the trail. In some sections, we're proposing sidewalk widening. There would be some new paint, and maybe some much improved bus stops. Maybe also some squared-off right turn ramps or at least some speed humps. There would be virtually no impact on through traffic or on stormwater volume. There would be virtually no increase in impervious surface.


And when the trail is built someday, hundreds of NASA commuters could ride their bikes or walk to work. Students could bike to school. Taking the bus would be much more comfortable and safe. We wouldn't need to drive everywhere just to feel safe getting around Greenbelt.


Maryland and Prince George's County are now talking the talk on complete streets, safety and accessibility for all. But I'm not sure we've learned to walk the walk. Our procedures are out of whack. We have so much work to do!

This is What we Have

This is What we Want

Our Motto: "Less than 2 Years, Less than $2 Million, Start Sector 2 now!" Let's get this project done and show what's possible in Prince George's County!


Full Trail Resources:


Sector 2 (NASA) Resources:


Our community partners in this effort are the City of Greenbelt, WABA, ATHA, the East Coast Greenway, the Greenbelt Community Development Corp., and the Glenn Dale Citizens Association. Would your company or organization like to help the trail effort? Please use reply to this newsletter or email us at info@greenbeltnasatrail.org for more info. -Jeff

How Can You Help?

Please don't hesitate to reply to this email with info and corrections and ideas! Send this newsletter to your friends and encourage them to sign up for these emails too. Share this link to the video of our trail walk with Delegate Nicole Williams and many local and state officials: https://youtu.be/4_EmhBTbFRE. We will need to reach out to more stakeholders and public officials whose help we will need to make www.GreenbeltNASATrail.org a reality! -Jeff