Hello trail supporters, and welcome to the Baltimore blog!
It was another great year for the Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition, and we are excited to share our progress and plans for the future through this brand-new forum! Check back regularly for updates about our efforts to advance the growing, 35-mile trail network, including community meetings, new developments and other relevant content. We also plan to highlight some of our local partners and other organizations that are working to create a healthier, greener and more equitable Baltimore.
But for our first post—here’s a review some of our major wins from 2018.
The number of coalition partners grew by 23 percent since 2017—a strong step toward our goal of creating a citywide-supported trail network. There are plenty of supporters throughout the city that believe in the value and potential of an interconnected trail system—ranging from educational institutions like the University of Maryland, Baltimore, to community-based nonprofits like the iCarre Foundation. We also recruited nine community associations, and we’re starting to attract regional attention, as demonstrated by the project’s inclusion in the Greater Washington Partnership’s Blueprint for Regional Transportation, the Green Network Plan and the Maryland Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan 2019 Update.
In 2018, we received two grants that will be instrumental in completing the southern portion of the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network. Last September, the Maryland Department of Transportation announced that the City of Baltimore Department of Transportation would be awarded funding to design a series of trail connections linking Middle Branch Park, Solo Gibbs Park and the Inner Harbor. You can learn more about this recent grant on the RTC TrailBlog.
We also received additional funding from the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership to support neighborhood greening efforts as well as our efforts to meaningfully involve residents in trail planning and participating in community events. We are appreciative of the support and relationships we have built with organizations like the Sharp-Leadenhall Community Association, Westport Neighborhood Association and South Baltimore Gateway Partnership.
Over the last year, in Northwest Baltimore, we collaborated with community members to explore how trail infrastructure can support existing needs and interests. We presented at Councilman Leon Pinkett’s Economic Development and Transportation Town Halls, attended dozens of community meetings and tabled a couple of great neighborhood festivals. Seeking to improve our outreach methods and effectively integrate local feedback, we established a Public Outreach Advisory Group (POAG) made up of residents from the communities between Druid Hill Park and Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park. We appreciate the insight shared by the POAG and their willingness to collaborate with the project team. As a result of their contributions, we left with a much stronger understanding of how a trail could be designed to fit the context of the existing neighborhoods.
These meetings were followed by three workshops in which trail coalition partners, along with interested residents and even city officials showed up to engage in conversations around trail development in Northwest Baltimore. We discussed critical topics like project maintenance, trail usage rates and the broader impact of trails in an urban context. During the last couple sessions, we shared a few trail design renderings that directly reflected suggestions shared by workshop attendees. For example, the sign on the bridge in the rendering below is a direct outcome of community members expressing a desire for the railroad bridge to welcome people and act as a gateway to neighborhoods along the Gwynns Falls Parkway. This is just one sampling of how trails can support broader community goals, and we are excited to continue this process!
The Southeast section of the trail is not without challenges, but we’ve made consistent progress thanks to the support of the City of Baltimore and our community partners. The coalition acquired a valuable partner last year by recruiting the American Institute of Architects Baltimore Urban Design Committee (AIA UDC). In collaboration with some of their members—representing architecture firms like JP2 Architects and Quinns Evans Architects (formerly Cho Benn Holback)—we created conceptual renderings and site plans outlining how to create a seamless connection from the Canton Waterfront to an underutilized railroad corridor. They have been incredibly helpful in identifying solutions to some of the land-use and design challenges in this section of the project, and with connecting us to key stakeholders in the area.
On Jan. 31, we co-hosted a happy hour at Monument City Brewery with our AIA UDC partners to showcase some of the designs. Close to 100 people showed up to learn about our progress and how to get involved in ongoing trail planning efforts. Check out more details on this event here.
As you can see, 2018 was a busy year for the Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition. For 2019, we look forward to re-engaging communities along every trail corridor and continuing to build citywide enthusiasm for the 35-mile network. We are extremely appreciative of everybody that has contributed their time and energy to bringing this project closer to reality. Thank you for reading, and check back for more updates to come.